4 Important Winter Automotive Maintenance Tips

4 Important Winter Automotive Maintenance Tips

| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

As winter quickly approaches, it’s important to perform simple preventative maintenance steps to stay safe in the blustery conditions. Investing in these simple repairs could be the difference in arriving to your destination on time or waiting for a tow truck on the side of the road.

Here are the basic winter maintenance repairs that the ASE-certified mechanics at Christian Brothers Automotive recommend you do before the snow flies each year:

1. Wiper Blades

Changing your wiper blades is one of the most important repairs you can make to your vehicle. There’s nothing more frightening to be blinded by the mud, snow and salt splashed on your windshield while frantically trying to wipe it off with old, ineffective wiper blades. The auto repair pros at Christian Brothers Automotive will help you select and install the best wiper blades for your vehicle.

2. Brakes

During the winter, the ice and snow can have a dramatic effect on your vehicle’s stopping distance. Why make it even worse with bad brakes? Having your brakes inspected by a certified professional will give you the peace of mind to know that your braking system is safe for winter driving.

Effects of Temperature

Outside temperature actually has little or no affect on your brake system. In fact, due to the friction generated between the brake pads and rotors, your brake system stays warm for a substantial amount of time after being driven for even a short amount of time and even after being parked. Cold weather doesn’t stop the heat and friction from being created inside your car’s brake system. Heavy braking can, however, overheat your brakes, reducing their efficiency.

Water or a Winter Chill

Rain or melting snow or ice can result in moisture on your brakes or brake fluid. If the water freezes, your brake system’s ability to function with the proper and efficient amount of pressure required for optimal performance drops. You may experience a dragging in your brakes under these circumstances. Additionally, if the excess moisture in your brake fluid begins to boil from the extra heat created as a result of increased friction, your brake performance may weaken and the distance required to stop your vehicle will increase.

Prevention

Make sure that brake maintenance is on the top of your list for vehicle service each year. A skilled mechanic can make sure that your brake system’s intricate parts are working efficiently and functioning properly, helping you prevent any dangerous situations due to weather or other driving conditions.

If your brake pads or rotors need to be replaced, Christian Brothers Automotive will give you an honest estimate and have you back on the road in no time.

3. Battery

There’s nothing fun about getting into your car and hearing the slow “Ka-Chugging” of the starter due to dead battery. Don’t get caught in the cold this winter, check your battery for signs that it needs replacing. Take a look at the posts on the battery. If there is a build-up, chances are that your car battery needs to be replaced. All vehicle batteries should be replaced every five to seven years. Not sure or need a second opinion? Take your vehicle into your local Christian Brothers Automotive to have your battery tested. The ASE-certified technicians will give you an honest answer and a fair price for all your automotive battery needs.

4. Alignment

Navigating the icy roadways can be a difficult task for any winter driver. Having the proper alignment in your vehicle can help you avoid potential accidents. Check your vehicle for signs that you need an alignment. Uneven wear on the tread of your tires, shaking when driving or pulling to one side are all indicators of alignment problems. If you are experiencing one or more of these issues, bring your vehicle into your local Christian Brothers Automotive right away.

Steps You Can Take to Winterize Your Car

There isn't much fun about winter driving. Since there is no way to stop snow from falling, please follow these tips to prepare yourself.

Refill Your Engine Coolant

Engine coolant performs the essential task of keeping your vehicle from overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter. It's a good rule of thumb to monitor your coolant levels to make sure you have the right fluid amounts. When it needs to be replenished, make sure you use the right type of coolant and fill it to the proper level.

Inspect Your Tires

Autumn is a great opportunity to inspect your tires and make sure that they are ready to handle driving in winter. If they have seen better days, you may want to consider new tires and, if your area is expected to have a snowy winter, snow tires could be the right choice. In addition, make sure you check your tire pressure regularly.

Prepare a Winter Emergency Kit

Especially if you live up North, it’s important to be prepared for anything. A simple winter emergency kit can go a long way towards keeping every drive safe through the holidays.

No matter where you live, make sure your kit includes:

  • Microfiber rags
  • Flashlight (and extra batteries)
  • Bottled water
  • First-aid kit
  • Foam rubber snow broom
  • Ice scraper

If you live in an area with excessive snowfall, extra precautions could save your life.

If your area experiences extreme temperatures, also include:

  • Blanket
  • Candle and matches
  • Cat litter
  • Small shovel
  • Nonperishable food

In a few short minutes, you could be prepared for whatever winter decides to throw your way. The extra preparation could go a long way towards helping you (and your car) survive the cold months.

Schedule an oil change

Your engine should be properly lubricated to run efficiently in cold weather. Because cold weather reduces the effectiveness of car oil, use thinner oil during the winter months. Thin oil runs through an engine easier than thicker oil, allowing the oil in your engine to circulate properly. Check your owner’s manual to find proper viscosity for your particular vehicle.

Check your belts and hoses
Extreme temperatures can damage the belts and hoses that help keep your engine running. Make sure your local auto technician regularly checks for damage and replaces them as needed.

Learn to Thaw a Frozen Door Lock

Unfortunately, our auto repair shops in the northern states face customers every year who have cracked windshields or damaged keyholes by pouring boiling water on their frozen car. Luckily, there’s an easier (and safer) way to free a frozen door.

You’ll recognize a frozen lock if you put the key into the keyhole and it won’t turn. In addition to boiling water, another old trick is heating the key with a match or lighter. This is both dangerous and could damage your key. Many modern keys come equipped with a microchip, which could stop working if held near fire.

To thaw a frozen door lock, simply dip the key in rubbing alcohol and spray lock deicer (or graphite spray) into the keyhole. The lock should now be thawed! Finish the process by wiping the key and keyhole dry with a microfiber cloth.

Learn to Defrost a Frozen Windshield

As you now know, pouring a pot of boiling water onto a frozen windshield is not a good idea. Fortunately, a little vinegar and room temperature water can fix a frozen windshield in minutes!

Fill a spray bottle with 3-parts vinegar, 1-part water and spray all over your car windows the night before a big freeze. The acetic acid in vinegar keeps the water from freezing. And not to worry if you forgot to spray the windows the night before – this same mixture will melt ice on a windshield, too!

As a bonus tip, you can use cooking spray to keep your doors from freezing shut! Spray the cooking oil around the door’s rubber seals, then wipe off with a paper towel. The oil in the cooking spray keeps rubber from sticking to metal!

Bring your vehicle into your local Christian Brothers Automotive today to make sure you have an accident-free winter.

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