Friday, November 23, 2012
Keeping your car in top shape during our Midwestern winters can be crucial to your family’s safety. Chevrolet has some great manuals and videos that will give you an overview of how to take care of your car year-round, but here are a few winter car maintenance tips you can use now:
- Clean The Battery Posts: The battery needs enough power to start your car even on the coldest days. If the posts are corroded, or have a white, crusty substance on them, power can’t flow efficiently from the battery to the engine. Carefully remove the battery cables, negative first, pour on some corrosion removal fluid (or baking soda and water), let it foam a bit, brush away any stubborn areas, rinse, install anti-corrosion discs (red on positive, green on negative), and reinstall the cables, positive side first.
- Inspect The Spark Plug Wires: If the insulation on your spark plug wires breaks, sparks can’t get to your engine; they go from the wire to another metal source under the hood. This can cause a cylinder to misfire or run rough, may harm the catalytic converter by letting unburned fuel into the exhaust system, or could even lead to a fire. Starting at the distributor, move your hands slowly along the wires leading toward the spark plugs. Feel for anything that is cracked, broken or uneven. Gently bend the wires to look for cracks. Check the boots at the distributor for tears, then pull each wire off at the spark plug end separately and check for any cracks or burning.
- Check The Brakes: The middle of a skid is a bad time to learn that your brakes aren’t working. With some alloy wheels you can perform a simple visual inspection; in other cases you will need to remove the wheel for a clear field of view. The discs should be relatively shiny and uniform. If there are pronounced grooves or observable rough spots, it’s time to replace the discs, which should be done in pairs. You may have to look up to see the brake pads, but there should be at least 1/8” or more of material remaining. If not, it’s time for a change. Similar to the spark plug wires, you should also inspect the flexible brake lines to make sure they are still pliant and soft. Cracked brake lines need to be replaced as well. In our area it’s also important to look at the hard, metal lines for signs of corrosion.
Other crucial winter car maintenance tips in our area include closely inspecting your survival kit in case you do get stuck in some type of traffic jam or snow bank. Your kit should have a small shovel, salt or kitty litter, space blanket or extra clothing, boots, flashlight, and food.
Feel free to ask us if you have any other questions on winter car maintenance tips. We look forward to meeting all of your seasonal driving needs.