You throw on your boots, grab your briefcase and head out the door for work. Snow covers the windshield of your car. You brush it off, jump in and turn the key. Grumble, grumble.
It won’t start.
Having a weak battery is the biggest car problem in the winter, Jim Rodwell, owner of Rodwell Repair, N782 US Highway 12 & 16, said.
“If your battery is five years old, you’re playing on borrowed time,” he said. The efficiency of a lead-acid battery decreases the colder it gets. Most batteries are stamped with a date. If you pop the hood of your car and the label says the battery is five years old or older, he said to get it changed.
“Maintenance is the number one thing,” he said. “Fix it before you have a problem.” He suggested having cars looked at during fall in preparation for the colder months.
Car owners don’t have to check their fluid levels more frequently in winter as long as they’re keeping up with maintenance, he said. Make sure to have plenty of antifreeze that’s tested for at least 30 below zero and check your oil once and a while, he said.
Rodwell said he wouldn’t run less than a quarter tank of gas in the wintertime. If condensation builds up in the fuel, the fuel lines could freeze, he said. Gas-line antifreeze would be needed to fix this. Frozen gas lines used to occur more often in the winter, he said. But not so much anymore.
“For fuel-injected cars, you just turn the key and let it start,” he said. “Let the computer, let the censors take care of everything.” Warm up the car and let the metal get up to temperature before taking off, he said.
Checking tire pressure is especially important in the winter, not just when the light shows up on the dash, he said. “You get deflation when it gets really cold,” he said.
In case your car breaks down in the freezing temperatures, Rodwell recommended always keeping a pair of jumper cables, a blanket and a couple bottles of water in the car.
“You never know when you’ll get stranded somewhere,” he said. Salt, sand and a shovel are helpful to have around if your car gets stuck in the snow.