As the country swings into the holiday season, it means that most of the country is swinging into cold weather. When the temperature drops dangerously low, many people wonder if it’s safe to get the car out for a drive. Cold temperatures can damage a vehicle by draining battery life, freezing fuel lines or even cracking the engine block if a car owner isn’t careful. For those of us who live in the south, it’s hard to imagine this type of thing being a daily issue. On the other hand, this list of tips may be more important for us because we face these things so rarely.
Here are some tips to help you beat the winter weather and the beating they can be on your car no matter where you live.
- Whether you are a glass half full or glass half empty kind of guy, when it comes to your gas tank, you should always shoot for half way. Having sufficient gas in the tank will keep the lines from freezing so that you can get things going when it’s time to go.
- Have the strength of your battery checked before the colder temperatures really set in. If a cold snap does catch you by surprise and you have to rely on a jump start from the neighbor, use this as a cue that it’s time to get that battery replaced.
- Check for sufficient levels that of antifreeze in your radiator. Antifreeze is designed to do exactly what its name implies. If you’ve ever had to clean up the mess from a Coke (or soda or pop, depending on where you live), you left in the freezer too long, imagine how much more expensive the problem if your engine bursts.
- If at all possible, leave the car in gear and do not activate the parking brake. The lines to the parking brake can freeze, and you will be unable to go anywhere even if your car does start.
- Get your car started up a few minutes before you have to leave. Just as it is hard for you to get going in the cold, it is also hard for your oil to get flowing. Let that oil warm up a bit; your engine will thank you for it.
- Make sure to have a properly stock emergency kit in the event that something does go wrong while you’re out on the road. Make sure you are carrying a fully charged cell phone or have a charger in the car. Have a bag or two of kitty litter or sand in the trunk. The extra weight will give you added traction and, if you get stuck, pouring some under your tires may get you out of a slippery situation.
- If a layer of ice has caused the doors, windows or locks to freeze over, use heat or a de-icer to unjam them. Do not combine both of these, though, as it can create a fire. Also, don’t use hot water since it can re-freeze and cause further damage.
Driving in severely cold temperatures can be dangerous for both you and your car. Spend a little time before the cold temperatures get here and give yourself a little extra time once they do. The investment of time is minimal and can keep your car on the road and you out of an accident.