Winter weather tips for vehicles
Wed, 01/10/2018 - 1:33pm admin
Kim Hudecek TPD Staff
Howard County - Winter weather has arrived. With recent subzero temperatures, a winter ready car is crucial for safe travel. Whether you are driving a spanking new car or nursing that trusty old rust bucket there are many things that you want to be sure is attended to as you winterize your car. Brian Bina, co-owner with his brother, Mark, of Northeast Iowa Motors, Cresco, shares some winterizing tips.
“Some of the things you want to be sure are done as you winterize your car are checking that the tire pressure is good, check your fluids, including your car’s antifreeze levels,” said Bina.
Why is the antifreeze important?
“You want to have your antifreeze tested to make sure it can withstand temperatures from 34 degrees to 37 degrees below zero,” said Bina. “If your antifreeze can’t withstand these temperatures your radiator can freeze up. You also want to make sure you have the appropriate washer fluid as well as make sure the wipers you are using are in good shape and appropriate for the winter weather.”
If you live in snowy areas, consider using a de-icing windshield wiper fluid. This type of fluid is made with chemicals that reduce adherence of frost, ice and snow in freezing weather. If the wiper fluid you are using is all season and not set up for extreme cold temperatures the fluid may not do the job you want. All-season windshield wiper fluid freezes at 32 degrees and windshield washer fluids made for the winter are safe for temperatures about 20 below zero, up to 30 below zero.
“Make sure you have a good battery and battery terminals and connections are clean,” added Bina. “The biggest reason for winter break downs is a dead battery. Make sure to have your car tuned-up. Make sure the spark plugs are firing correctly and wires are in good shape. If they are toward the end of life they aren’t working as efficiently; not getting enough spark. So, you keep trying to get the car started and what may happen is that you may flood the car. What is happening is that too much gas goes in the cylinder and it won’t fire properly.”
And what about the idea of keeping your gas tank at half or above?
“For me personally I like to keep the tank at half full or above in case of an emergency situation,” said Bina. “You want to be sure you can still keep your car running in emergency winter situations so that you can keep warm. There used to be condensation concerns with fuel but now we have ethanol that concern isn’t there because ethanol helps keep water from freezing. It acts as isopropyl heat.”
Bina shared that last week with subzero temperatures, Northeast Iowa Motors, had their share of service calls.
“AAA was so backed up, some people were having to wait until the next day,” said Bina. “Of course, one of the most important things to have in for winter driving is good tires. Make sure they have adequate tread and if they don’t you need to replace them.”
Brent Holten, Service Manager at H&S Motors agreed with Bina. “Tires and batteries should be double-checked. They are the most common problem in winter.”
He went on to explain that as the temperatures get colder, the air pressure gets lower.
He noted a big “no-no” in car maintence is just neglecting it. “Don’t assume it runs the same in the summer as in the winter,” Holten said.
As for gas levels, he suggested being above at least a quarter tank in winter and summer. “It is easier on the fuel pump.”
Items to have in the vehicle
The Iowa State Patrol suggests keeping these items in your vehicle in case you are stranded.
• Warm winter clothing; things like gloves, a coat, hat and boots.
• Flashlight-check to be sure the batteries are fresh.
• First aid kit.
• Red flag or “Send Help” sign or something to attract attention.
• Sack of dry sand or cat litter.
• Booster cables.
• Tow chain or rope.
• Cell phone charger.
Bina added another important item to that list. A blanket.
“I always suggest having a blanket in the vehicle,” said Bina. “If you are stranded and cannot run your vehicle to keep warm you can always keep warmer with a blanket. This is really useful if there is more than one person in the vehicle.”
With the recent warm up, don’t let your guard down. If you haven’t already make sure your car is winter ready and be safe out there.