Celebrate car-care month — winterize
To many people, October weather brings the first clues winter is on its way. The leaves have changed, it’s 20 degrees cooler and the mountains are beginning to see wisps of snow.
People are beginning to prepare homes, boats and cars for winter, and if the weather changes aren’t enough to urge drivers to get ready, October is also car-care month.
Tom Gordon, manager of Mercer Automotive, said it’s a time to make the needed preparations before the snow and ice arrive on the roads of Park City. But if regular maintenance has been taken care of throughout the year, he said winterizing isn’t as daunting as some make it sound.
"Should your car be well maintained and checked often by a reputable shop, you should have no problems during the winter," he said. "If your car is not well maintained, then get it checked by a company you trust."
He stressed continual maintenance rather than one or two overhauls before the winter and summer months hit.
"You shouldn’t need to service your battery or replace your window washer fluid because regular maintenance should take care of that," he said. "Most people who drive in the winter are pretty heads up, but major concerns are often tire pressure and tread depth, as well as fluid leaks and overall fluid conditions."
He said fluids should be inspected at least once per month, ideally once every two weeks, and tires should be checked before each time the automobile is driven.
"Cars are like airplanes you should take a walk around the car to make sure everything looks OK," he said. "You don’t want to find out you have a flat tire in some place like the middle of an intersection when it’s much less convenient than wherever the car was just parked."
However, if regular maintenance has been neglected, there is work to be done.
Some of the fluids that could be affected by the colder temperatures are coolant, window-washer fluid, battery water and oil.
Coolant, which helps the vehicle withstand extreme temperatures, should be used rather than water, which will freeze at 32 degrees.
Most window-washer fluids will not freeze until temperatures reach well below zero, but there are specific types of fluid with lower freezing points for those dealing with extremely cold weather. Replacing wiper blades is also recommended.
The water used in car batteries often freezes during winter months, making it difficult, or even impossible, to start the vehicle. If the automobile has not undergone regular service, having the battery checked is recommended.
Oil becomes thicker as temperatures drop and thicker oil doesn’t circulate as well in an engine during start-up as a thinner oil. If the oil is too thick, the engine doesn’t get the proper lubrication. Those in colder temperatures and without a parking garage may need to switch to a thinner oil during the winter months, however, care must be taken to ensure the oil chosen is not too thin.
Tires are also an important aspect of the automobile during the winter months. Regularly using a tire gauge to check pressure is necessary because the air in the tires contracts with the cold temperatures, resulting in flat tires. Check the spare tire as well.
Tread is also important to have checked, especially if they are not winter or all-season tires.
It’s also important, if not done in other routine check ups, to inspect head and taillights, belts, hoses, spark plugs, heater and defroster. Brakes, which are important to keep maintained year-round, should also be looked at.
Lastly, drivers can protect their automobiles from mud and salt damage with a thorough cleaning and wax.
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Park City has launched a survey designed to learn about travel habits during a winter that was unlike any other in the skiing era of the community.