An inconvenience anytime it occurs and can be deadly in the winter.
Preventative Maintenance (P.M.) is a must. A well maintained vehicle is
enjoyable to drive, it lasts longer and it could command a higher resale
Some of the following tips can be performed by any
do-it-yourselfer. (Others require a professional auto technician.)
Engine Performance: Get engine drivability
problems (hard starting, rough idle, stalling diminished power, etc.)
corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes problems
worse. Replace dirty filters...air, fuel, pvc, tune-up, etc.
Put a bottle of a good fuel deicer into your tank once a month to help keep
moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a gas tank which is
kept filled helps keep moisture from forming.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual or more often
(every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop and go or consists of
frequent short trips.
Systems: The cooling system should be completely flushed and
refilled about once every 24 months. The level, condition and
concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50
mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) Do-it-yourselfers,
never open the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! You
should check the condition of the drive belts and water pump. The
tightness of drive belts, clamps and hoses should be checked by a pro.
The heater and defroster should be in good working condition for passenger
comfort and driver visibility.
Wipers: Replace old blades. If our climate is harsh, purchase
rubber clad (winter) blades to fight ice buildup. Stock up on windshield
solvent or deicer. You'll be surprised to see how much you will
use. Carry an ice-scraper and/or brush.
The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional
equipment; some type of carbon-pile load tester or equal. Routine
care: scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connection; clean all
surfaces; retighten all connections. If battery caps are removable,
check filled level.
Avoid all contact with
corrosive deposits and battery acid. Do not smoke at any time around a
battery. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Inspect all lights, replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean all road
grime from lenses. To prevent scratches never use a dry rag.
System: Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust
system examined for leaks and corrosion. Your trunk and floor boards
should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for
thread depth, uneven wear and cupping. Check sidewalls for cuts
and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month. Cold weather makes
tire pressure lower. Let the tires "cool down" before checking
the pressure. Rotate tires, as recommended. Correct tire pressure
can be found on your vehicle door jam. Don't forget your most important
tire...the spare tire...and make sure that your jack is in good operating
Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a
small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, matches, battery jumper
cables and a flashlight. Put a few high energy bars in your glove
box. Make sure that your cell phone is charged.
Hope you have a safe winter. From the
Fleet Maintenance Technicians.