The recent frigid cold has made for a stressful beginning to 2018. All too often, motorists forget that there is something else in their life that is also enduring the harshness of winter: their vehicle.
AAA East Central has provided a checklist for winter car care:
• Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.
• Check the condition of the battery cables and terminals. Make sure all connections are secure and remove any corrosion from the terminals and posts.
• Inspect drive belts for cracks or fraying. Don’t just look at the smooth top surface of the belt, but turn it over and check the grooved underside where most belt wear occurs.
• Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks, or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses to check for any that may be brittle or excessively spongy feeling and in need of replacement.
• In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires will work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. Uneven wear on the tires can indicate alignment, suspension, or wheel balance problems that should be addressed to prevent further damage to the tires.
• Check tire pressure more frequently during winter months. As the temperature drops, so will the pressures in the tires — typically one pound for square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. Don’t forget to check the spare.
• Check the engine’s air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if the light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
• Check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If the coolant level is low, add a 50-50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. The level of antifreeze protection can be checked with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.
• Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake lights, and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.
• Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. In areas with snowy conditions, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade in a rubber boot to prevent ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the rubber blade and the glass.
• Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze components for cold weather use.
• Have brakes inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.