Mechanic Offers Cold Weather Tips For Vehicles

Sheldon, Iowa — This is January and we normally see a few sub-zero days. While there are no sub-zero days in the immediate forecast, we’re going to get pretty close a few times in the next several days, with lows in the single digits, and there are some things about your car to keep in mind when it gets cold.

We talked with Mike Christians, who runs Larry’s Repair in Sheldon. He told us some things to keep in mind to keep your car running next time the bitter cold strikes.

He says if a car won’t start, more than likely nowadays, it’s the battery.

(as said:)”More times than not with the newer vehicles, yes, it is. I mean if you got a good battery and they turn over they’re going to start if their regularly maintenanced and stuff like that, you know tuned up and stuff like that. If you got a good battery they should turn over.”

Years ago, there may have been some other things to check in really cold weather, but the newer cars just need a good battery and regular maintenance, says Christians.

(as said:)”You know tune-up, spark plugs, fuel filter. Make sure everything’s running. A basic good tune-up, I guess.”

Sometimes people have issues with water in the fuel, which could cause ice to form and block the fuel lines, but he tells us that’s not very common in gasoline-powered vehicles in his experience.

(as said:)”If it’s a diesel engine, you want to run a blend in during the winter, but a gas engine? No, I haven’t had a problem with water in the fuel.”

Another problem people see a lot when the mercury drops to subzero levels is their tires deflate a little. According to Christians, it seems like it’s more of an issue now than it used to be, but he says with the new technology in cars, people are just more aware of it. But he says it could be an issue that you should have checked.

(as said:)”Nowadays the most cars got aluminum rims and they seem like they will leak down faster in the colder weather than like a steel wheel will. They do build up a little corrosion between the tire bead and the rim. Most tires in the cold weather leaking around the beads. So a lot of times we got to take the tire off and clean the beads up and there is a bead sealer you can put around it and usually, that takes care of the problem. With the colder weather the pressures are down and you know, when you drive it the heat builds up in the tires and the pressure comes back up and I think people nowadays — with the tire monitoring systems — probably notice it more than when there wasn’t because you know, if it’s low the lights going to come on. Years ago they didn’t have that so you didn’t know you had a low tire.”

Christians tells us they see all kinds of other issues too when it gets extremely cold — like 30 below.

(as said:)”When it approaches 30 degrees below zero, there’s going to be other issues. I mean things don’t work like they usually do when it’s that cold. Another thing is heaters and stuff like that, you know, people realize their heaters aren’t working like they used to you know, thermostats. We have a big problem with thermostats, you know, that the heaters not getting warm enough and stuff like that. Yeah. I mean, there’s always going to be cold-related issues a lot of different things, you know. A lot of this on these cars anymore there’s a lot of plastic on them and plastic likes to break and there’s a lot of issues when it gets cold.”

He says if your battery is more than five years old, you should consider replacing it. According to Christians, in subzero weather, it’s best to start a car and let it warm up a little before you take it down the road. He says working a very cold engine and other parts isn’t good for them, and you might save yourself some trouble — and keep yourself warm — by letting your car warm up first. And if you have issues, he encourages you to give him or another mechanic a call, and they’ll give you some help.

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