Part of parenting here in Maryland is dispensing driving advice. For example, in icy weather young drivers may be told, “Take it slow. Don’t drive any faster than the speed at which you’re willing to hit a brick wall.” Thanks Mom. Thanks Dad. Driving slowly and cautiously is good advice, but the Car Care Council reminds motorists of other cold weather tips. The first and most important is to be proactive. That means making sure your car is mechanically sound before the temperature dips and the streets get icy.
Engine and Cooling System
First, if you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer, get under the hood. Otherwise, visit your friendly automotive technician. Winter only magnifies existing problems like pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling, so make certain the engine is in peak condition. Check the cooling system, too. Coolant should be flushed and refilled every two years on most vehicles.
Have the oil changed every 3,000 to 4,000 miles for most vehicles. For less wear and tear on the engine, drivers in cold climates (sub-zero driving temperatures) should be sure the oil weight used complies with manufacturer specifications. At Motor World in Marlow Heights, our courtesy visual inspections, done at no charge with every oil change, are the 1st step for worry free winter driving!
Four Other Musts
The battery and exhaust system are other “must check” items. These should be examined using professional equipment. Make certain the heater/defroster are working properly and keep the gas tank full. In addition to staying ready for the road, a full fuel tank decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
Now for the outside of the vehicle: tires, lighting, and wipers. Both tire tread and tire pressure should be checked weekly. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. Lights should be inspected regularly. Check to see that bulbs are illuminated, and headlights are properly aimed. Finally, replace wiper blades every six months. Consider special snow blades if the weather dictates.
Even the most meticulously maintained vehicle can develop problems on the road, especially during inclement weather. That’s when it pays to be prepared for an emergency. The trunk- Use that big space for something more than a spare tire (which, incidentally should properly inflated, just in case). Pack items that would be needed if you got stranded for several hours. A cell phone (with a car charger) is a good start. Also include the following: ice scraper, windshield de-icer, flashlight, whisk broom, blanket, extra clothes, candle/matches, bottled water, snacks, needed medication.