Auto Care Corner
How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter
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In this episode of Auto Care Corner, John and Rich discuss what you need to do to ensure your car is ready to provide you with trouble free driving in the harsh winter weather conditions. Considering items such as antifreeze (coolant), winter tires, belts, hoses, cabin heating system, essential fluids like engine oil and transmission oil and the effects that cold temperatures have on these fluids.

Flushing your radiator and cooling system is very cheap insurance to ensure your engine’s vital components like the water pump, radiator, heater core, thermostat, radiator hose and cylinder heads stay clean and prevents scale and build up on these vital components which leads to premature wear and failure!

Belts and hoses have a life span of about 6 years in the harsh weather conditions of New England. Long road trips will build up under-hood temperatures which can cause catastrophic failure of these vital components. If a coolant hose fails, the coolant is under pressure and will leak out almost immediately causing the engine to overheat which can cause severe engine damage. Belts don’t crack and show wear like they did on your fathers Oldsmobile but they do wear out. Much like a tire they have a tread depth that wears down and then the belt can slip off or break. Most cars have only one belt called a serpentine belt because of the way it snakes around all of your engine’s accessory pulleys. They drive things like your Power Steering Pump, your Water Pump, your Alternator which powers your car and charges your battery. If you lose the belt then you lose power steering, water pump and engine power!

Your tires are the single most important safety item on your vehicle. It is the only thing between you and the road. Tires enable you to start, stop, turn corners and drive down the road. If they are worn then they can’t do any of these things effectively. For example, if tires are worn then you can lose contact with the road in wet weather conditions causing you to lose control of the vehicle. Worn tires decrease your ability to start off in wet or snowy conditions. They drastically increase your stopping times and distance.

Winter tires for example are far superior to all season tires for:

  • Driving in temperatures below 45 degrees. (i.e. all winter)
  • Driving on ice and snow
  • Starting distance is drastically reduced
  • Stopping distance is drastically reduced (6-15 feet) big difference between crashing and not!

For more on snow tires please check out John’s blog on that subject here