The recent “bomb cyclone” that ravaged the Northeast and the bone-chilling temperatures that blasted much of the country have put the spotlight on car-care needs such as antifreeze and batteries.
But motorists need to focus on other aspects of the vehicle too, according to the Car Care Council.
“Most people never heard of ‘bombogenesis’ until heavy snow and dangerous cold recently hit many areas of the country, including several states that usually don’t experience this type of severe weather,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Making sure your vehicle is properly prepared for the elements will help you avoid the aggravation of an unplanned road emergency.”
The nonprofit Car Care Council offers six quick tips to help your vehicle perform at its best during cold-weather months.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full. This decreases the chance of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
- Check the tire pressure, including the spare, as tires can lose pressure when temperatures drop. Consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
- Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold-weather driving when windows are closed.
- Allow your car a little more time to warm up when temperatures are below freezing so the oil in the engine and transmission circulate and get warm.
- Change to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when it is cold. Drivers in sub-zero temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10W-30 to 5W-30, as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
- Consider using cold-weather washer fluid and special winter windshield blades if you live in a place with especially harsh winter conditions.
Drivers should stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.
The Car Care Council also recommends a thorough vehicle inspection by a trusted professional service technician, as winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.