Keeping vehicles working this winter

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Crystal and Lance Moggey work on a vehicle at Panda Tire and Auto on Jan. 7, 2014.

Just because a car hasn’t had any issues doesn’t mean it will start in the winter.

“We’ve had people come in and they’ve had no problems. Their car won’t start and their battery is really weak. Sometimes they just go, but they hadn’t had their battery tested prior,” said Layna Leflar, service advisor at Panda Tire and Auto. “Weak batteries, if they’re weak in the summer when it gets to winter and it drops below, they have trouble starting.”

Checking the battery, alternator and starter is a crucial part of winter car maintenance. Leflar said cold winter weather is harder on the battery and if a car won’t start, it could be because of the battery. The battery is responsible for powering the electrical components of the vehicle.

The alternator provides electrical power to the vehicle while the engine is running as well as recharging the battery used to start the engine. The starter allows fuel and air to go into the engine so it can be ignited.

Leflar said other important winter maintenance includes plugging in the car and using a block heater and block heater cords.

“Plugging in will warm up the oil and the anti-freeze in the engine, which helps it turn over easier,” she said.

Block heaters are electric heaters that will warm up the coolant in the motor and raise the temperature of the engine. Vehicles should be plugged in when temperatures are below - 20 Celsius.

Leflar said everyone should get his or her vehicle checked out for winter maintenance.

“We check to make sure the anti-freeze is at a proper strength for the winter,” she said. “Make sure the winter washer fluid isn’t summer so it doesn’t freeze up. We just do a check-over.”

She also recommended checking the tires of the vehicle.

“If the tires are pretty bald, you’re not going to really get around very well,” said Leflar. “The longer the tread on (tires), they’re not bald because that’s when you find problems.”

When tires get so worn down that there is no tread on the tires, they are bald tires. Tread is important because it helps the tires grip the road.

The type of tires can make a difference when driving in the winter as well, said Leflar. The decision on whether to get winter tires depends on “how much they drive and what kind of driving they do,” she said.

“Obviously we’d recommend (winter tires),” said Leflar. “It’s safer with winter tires in the winter, but a good all-season you can also get away with. It just depends.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Panda Tire

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