A local mechanic gives tips for preparing the car for winter
COLUMBIA, MO (KMIZ)
With low temperatures and wind chills bringing mid-Missouri into the negative, many complications can arise. One thing that often causes problems in cold weather is cars.
The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team issued a daytime weather alert Wednesday through Friday at noon due to extremely cold temperatures in mid-Missouri. Before you get stuck in the cold with a dead battery, here are some suggestions from local mechanic Ben Webb with Custom Complete Automotive.
Many of these things can easily be checked by a mechanic if you bring your car in for regular maintenance.
Tires lose pressure when the temperature drops and driving with low tire pressure can lead to a dangerous situation.
“Just like walking on ice, any extra movement in a direction that you’re not prepared to compensate for puts you at risk of an accident,” Webb said.
To avoid disaster, drivers can check the label inside the driver’s side door to see what tire pressure their car should have. However, Webb reminds drivers not to inflate tires to maximum pressure. Webb suggests everyone keep a pressure gauge handy to check tire pressure regularly.
Tires lose about 1.2 pounds of pressure for every 10 degrees of temperature drop.
“So let’s say you get a 50 degree swing overnight, like when we just went from 60 to 10, you’re going to lose about six pounds of pressure on average,” Webb said.
The radiator cools the engine. But, when temperatures drop below freezing, heaters can freeze up and stop working without proper maintenance. Webb said a broken radiator could cost more to fix than replacing the entire engine.
“Otherwise, your radiator can basically turn into a big block of ice, and that prevents it from cooling the engine, which will then overheat the engine,” Webb said.
Mechanics can perform a gravity test, which checks how low a temperature your radiator can withstand. The radiators must be able to withstand temperatures between -30 and -40 degrees.
“Let’s say your antifreeze levels are -10. You’d think that would be good, right?” said Webb. “Well, you start factoring in the wind chill and driving down the highway at 70 miles an hour, and all of a sudden you’re looking at -20 to -25 temperatures.”
Wipers and wipers
When de-icing a windshield, Webb suggests using a chemical de-icer.
There are a few common mistakes Webb says to avoid when dealing with a frozen windshield. First, do not attempt to use the wiper motor to free the wiper blades from the ice. Forcing the motor when the blades are frozen causes long term problems.
Do not pour hot water on a frozen windshield, it will break the windshield.
“Don’t use hot water unless you like replacing windshields,” Webb said.
Car batteries lose power when the temperature drops. Webb suggests keeping a starter pack handy in case the battery dies.
“If you have a weak battery, hit it with a 30-40 degree drop, chances are it can’t create enough voltage for you to even start the car,” Webb said. .
You can also have your battery tested at an auto shop to make sure it’s strong enough to withstand the cold.