Car Care Tips
9 Steps For a Winter Ready Car
The Car Care Council recommends the following steps for winterizing your vehicle:
1. If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
2. Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
3. Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
4. Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
5. Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
6. Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
7. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
8. Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
9. Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
Six Vehicle Warning Signs Your Nose Can Recognize
The Car Care Council recommends a sniff test of your vehicle to identify any unusual smells, including the following six warning signs:
1. The smell of burnt rubber could be slipping drive belts or misplaced loose hoses that might be rubbing against rotating accessory drive pulleys. Do not reach in if the engine compartment is hot.
2. The smell of hot oil could mean that oil is leaking onto the exhaust system. To verify the leak, look for oil on the pavement or smoke coming from the engine area.
3. The smell of gasoline is likely the sign of a gas leak in some area of the vehicle such as a fuel injector line or the fuel tank. Any smell of fuel can result in a possible fire hazard, so immediate attention should be given.
4. The sweet smell of syrup may be a sign that your car is leaking engine coolant from a leaky component related to the car’s cooling system. Do not open the radiator cap when it is hot.
5. The smell of burning carpet could be a sign of brake trouble and a safety hazard. Have your brakes checked right away, especially if this smell is happening during normal driving conditions.
6. The smell of rotten eggs is never a good one and, if you smell it coming from your vehicle, it could mean a problem with your catalytic converter not converting the hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust to sulfur dioxide properly. This smell can also be attributed to a poor running engine, causing the catalytic converter to become overloaded and fail due to meltdown.
Time to Change Your Vehicle’s Cabin Air Filter
Before winter sets in is a good time to check your cabin air filter, after it’s been working hard all spring, summer and fall. Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens, and according to the Car Care Council, should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or per the owner’s manual.
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