Too cold to walk

Car maintenanceTips for maintaining your car during the winter
Liz Whittemore
Photo Editor

Cold weather makes problems that already exist in your car even worse. Before winter gets too deep, make sure your vehicle is in good shape and winter-ready.
Here are a few tips from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) on how to increase your car’s reliability during the winter.
Refer to your user manual to know when to take care of oil changes and tire rotation. Replace bald, worn out tires and check your tire pressure once a month. Under-inflated and off-balance tires make your engine work even harder and use more gasoline, costing you even more money.
Speaking of gasoline, make sure to keep your gas tank filled. In case you break down, not only will this will be your only source of heat, it keeps moisture from forming in your gas tank. Also, adding a bottle of fuel deicer to your gas tank once a month helps to prevent any built-up moisture from freezing in your fuel lines.
Another vital attribution to the reliance of your vehicle is having your battery checked. If you need to purchase a new one; find the biggest, meanest battery that will fit in your car. The engine is harder to start in cold weather, regardless of if your battery starts perfect during the warm months, oil is not as fluid during the winter and will require more power to start.
Maintaining visibility in your car is essential. Replace windshield wipers and ensure that your heater and defroster are working. Also, check that there is enough windshield solvent in your car. In slushy conditions it does not take long to go through a gallon of solvent. Check it routinely or keep a container in the trunk of the car in case of an emergency.
Check your drive belt. According to my father, John Whittemore, a former mechanic for General Motors, newer cars only have one drive belt. This powers your car’s heating/air conditioning, water pump, alternator, etc. If that goes, you could lose everything from your car such as your head lights, heater, and engine cooling.
“It’s not a big deal in the summer, but in the winter it can be deadly,” said Whittemore.
Include an emergency kit in your car so you can stay warm and be able to get help during harsh weather in case of a break down. Include items such as gloves, boots, extra gasoline, a shovel, a flashlight with extra batteries, a flare, blankets, an ice scraper, sand to help with traction, a cell phone with a car charger, and some non-perishable snacks.
Lastly, drive safe. Although others may fly by you, don’t get pulled into a false sense of security. Four-wheel drive vehicles can end up in ditches too.