Winterizing your car: Pay now, or pay later - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Winterizing your car: Pay now, or pay later

December 15, 2004

Lee County-- If the recent cold snap hasn't caused problems for your car, it may be in good mechanical condition. If it's not, you may be running on borrowed time.

Wes Taliaferro of Gillionville Auto Repair says his company sees many breakdowns this time of year. One of the most common problems is a weak battery. Extreme temperatures can expose a weak battery.

"If you would have your battery checked in advance, have your cooling system checked in advance, and make sure that it doesn't need to be flushed, it has a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water, and also that your belts and hoses are in pretty good condition, and that you have a proper thermostat in your vehicle," says Taliaferro.

"You might want to check your wiper blades, make sure that they're not ripped or torn, because your're going to be needing those to scrape the ice off the windshield."

Tires frequently lose pressure over time. "You want to check your tire pressure. When the weather is cold, your tire loses air simply because of the difference in temperature, so if you aired your tires when it was 80. Now it's 30, your tires are probably or ten pounds low on air pressure."

"If you have a small crack in your windshield, and you pour water on that windshield, It will make you have a large crack on your windshield. It could actually break your windshield, and if you pour hot water on it when it's cold, it could shatter the whole windshield."

The most costly problems are those related to the engine. "If it freezes, you could have a cracked head, a cracked block in your engine. You could actually ruin your engine," said Taliaferro.

"You could actually ruin your engine, just simply not having twenty dollars worth of anti-freeze in your engine."

"The wiper blade, it's all suppose to be in tact, all the way down like this. The end of this one is torn off. Not only is it going to scrape the ice off your windshield but it's also going to scratch your windshield, damage your windshield when this metal touches it right here."

Cracked and dry rotted belts can break without notice. "This one belt runs your water pump, runs your alternator, it runs your power steering pump. It runs everything on your engine. Most vehicles have one belt so if this one belt is worn or damaged, or in fact your cooling system was cold when you started the engine up, it would break this belt and then you're stranded because you've only got one belt."

And radiator hoses often develop a soft spot. "What would happen is it would break and you would lose all of your coolant."

Even something as simple as a $20.00 hose could cost you an engine when it blows, when the hose gets a hole in it, you're driving down the roas and you don't notice that you're leaking coolant."

"When the temperature drops, then the pressure inside your tire also drops proportionately to the temperature.It's a good idea to check these at least once a week it's cold."

"If your tire does not have the proper pressure, you also don't have the proper amount of traction and traction is very important, especially when you have cold roads or wet rainy roads. You need the traction in order for vehicle to stay on the road."

"When the vehicle start cold, that's when that's the most damage is done to an engine so if it has old or dirty oil or not enough oil, then the vehicle is going to be starved for oil and that's going to cause damage to your engine over a period of time."

"You want to check your battery and make sure that it is not corroded, that it's clean."

posted at 4:15PM by dave.miller@walb.com