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Prepare Your Car For The Bitter Cold

January 3, 2014, 6:15 PM by Jared Ransom

Prepare Your Car For The Bitter Cold

Temperatures well below zero provide a quick shock to our system when we walk out the door, but it can be an even bigger shock to cars that are parked outside.

"It really makes the engine crank really hard. So, the battery needs to be in tip-top shape, the general electrical portions of the car need to be in tip-top shape," Airway Auto Service owner Tom Broadbent said.

The oil in the car will struggle to make it through the system, so warming up the car is critical to keeping things running smoothly. That may mean you'll need to start it several times before you even hit the road.

"Get up in the middle of the night and start the car one time or go out and start it. Let it warm up 10 to 15 minutes and shut it off, that'll make huge improvements when the morning comes," Broadbent said.

While there are some instances when the engine can't circulate fuel--it's more of a problem for diesel-fueled cars--Broadbent says for most people, that isn't a problem.

"Most everything has an ethanol blend to it, which acts as a heat, if you will, to keep the moisture dispersed. So, not a super-huge issue," Broadbent said.

The record-breaking cold temperatures have a huge effect on the inside of the car, but you also need to pay attention to the tires, and what happens in the cold weather, as well.

You could wake up to a flat tire because the cold can actually suck the nitrogen out of the air inside. But hold on before you rush to fill it up again.

"I never recommend adding air when the temperature's that cold out. It could ruin your tire pressure monitors by shoving ice into them, and most air hoses, if they're sitting outside, they're going to have ice in them," Broadbent said.

Broadbent also recommends not parking your car pointed to the north to avoid the colder winds. If you do have a block heater, definitely use it. That will have your engine ready to deal with the temperatures and could save you from getting up in the middle of the night to start your car.

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