Winter Is Coming!
Are Your Vehicles Ready For Winter?
I’ve lived here in the South Hills of Pittsburgh all of my life, and every year around this time we get a cold slap in the face by mother nature. Sometimes we’re ready for it, and other times it kinda sneaks up on us. So I wanted to make sure you had your car truck or suv in mind when you’re driving around the Elizabeth, Pa area with these helpful winter driving tips.
What you need to know going into winter:
Tires – As the temperatures start to decline, so does your tire pressure – about 1 psi per 11 degree temp drop. That means if you last had your tires checked when it was 70 outside, and now its in the 30’s your tires could be about 4 pounds low or likely even more. That may not seem like much to you but it can have a big effect on your tire tread life and your gas mileage (which also drops even more in cold weather).
For many years I worked at or managed full service gas stations (including the Boron/BP station in Elizabeth Borough for 18 years), and we always had a free air hose there to use. Nowadays, it’s hard to find a place that will not only supply the air hose let alone actually check your tires for you. Feel free to stop by Elizabeth Auto Care any time we’re open Monday thru Friday from 8 am til 5:30 pm and we’ll be happy to provide this full service tire pressure check just like the good old days!
It’s also important to keep an eye on your tire tread depth as we slide into the winter snow and slush season. Since tires usually come new with a little over 10/32nd of tread, and they fail Pa State Inspection under 2/32nd, we usually recommend replacing them right around 4/32nd going into winter. This will help you stay safe on the roads with as little sliding as possible. Most front wheel drive and AWD vehicles do just fine driving around Elizabeth with all season tires, but if you drive on roads that aren’t plowed well, or are out and about before the plows hit the road you may want to consider more aggressive snow tires. Ask us, we can help you decide which ones will suit your needs best.
Car Battery – Summers heat is what usually causes the most damage to car batteries, but it’s the bitter cold weather that will show you how dead a battery can get! By the time you hear that ominous ‘click, click click’ of a dead battery, it’s too late. That’s why we always offer free battery tests when your car is in for service at our auto repair shop. So you can be prepared before it leaves you stranded.
Our experience has shown us that most batteries in the Elizabeth Pa area only last for about 3-4 years. Some fail sooner and others last longer, but why take the chance of getting stuck somewhere late at night in the freezing cold? Or risk being late for work because the car won’t start.
If you’re not sure if your vehicles battery will make it through winter, stop in and let one of our ASE Certified Master Mechanics test it for you for free! Even if you don’t have an appointment, just stop in during business hours and we’ll check it for you. And if your battery is coming up on 4 years old, just plan on replacing it. We want you to be safe and avoid emergencies because when you’re stuck somewhere, your emergency becomes ours, and that’s not good for any of us.
Oil Changes – Its tempting to start your vehicle and let it run in the colder weather so you don’t have to get in a chilly car and shiver until the heater kicks in. But all that idling is really hard on your engine oil because so many impurities get deposited into the oil from your engine’s combustion chambers. And since the air is cooler than normal, your engine never really gets hot enough to adequately burn off these impurities, contaminating your engine crankcase. This is what causes so many problems with bearing lubrication, Timing Chain tensioners and variable valve timing components.
That’s just one of the reasons why we still recommend mot vehicles continue to get their oil changes at 3-4,000 mile intervals no matter what your car dealer told you. It’s cheap maintenance and will help you keep that car or truck running for many years after the car payments are done.
Antifreeze – Almost every vehicle needs fluid in it’s cooling system to not only keep your engine running cool in the summer, but also from freezing in the winter too! Most antifreeze will last for 5 years without having to change it, but if you added any water to the radiator that freeze protection could be compromised. The perfect mixture here in the Elizabeth area is half water and half antifreeze to protect you down to -34 degrees.
The real danger in not checking and changing your antifreeze is that your engine or radiator could freeze and crack in the really cold temperatures coming up. So if you’ve had any repairs done or added any water to your cooling system, have the anti-freeze mixture tested to make sure you’re protected properly. Or if your car is 5 years old, it’s time to flush out the old and replace it with fresh coolant/antifreeze as maintenance to avoid any problems like corrosion or sediment damage.
Wiper Blades – Winter snow and ice are really tough on your wiper blades. If you’re driving over 10,000 miles per year, we usually recommend replacing your wipers every 6 months to make sure you can see where your going in rain or snow. Over time, small stone chips accumulate in your windshield and these sharp edges tend to cut the rubber wiping blade, leaving streaks and smears. Also, the rubber on these blades become hard and cracked with use, causing them to chatter and skip as they wipe across the windshield. Life’s too short to live with bad wiper blades, stop in anytime we’re open and we’d be happy to replace them for you!
Washer Fluid – To save money, many windshield washer fluid manufacturers produce a ‘summer’ formula fluid that only protects from freezing down to 20 degrees. But here in the Pgh Pa area, we need washer fluid that will go down to -20 below. So make sure your washer fluid is the right kind going into winter or you could end up with a frozen washer pump or ice on your windshield instead of cleaning fluid.
Frozen Door Locks – A lot of our customers cars, including mine, are always outside in any weather condition. This exposes the door locks to water that can freeze in the winter time. A good preventive measure going into winter is to spray a lock deicer or lubricant into the door lock where the key goes. This will flush out any moisture and lubricate the small tumblers inside the locks, allowing them to work when you need them to. If you are unsure what to do, please ask us next time your car is in for service and we’ll be happy to protect your locks for you!
Car Detailing – Waxing your vehicles paint every 6 months is smart protection and it also helps you get through the winter too! I usually apply a wax/sealer to my paint every spring to replace what got lost in the winter, and every fall to protect my paint finish from the harsh weather ahead. I’ve also found that the professional paint sealer we use is wonderful for keeping your windshield cleaner in the winter. The snow and ice just brushes right off when I’m getting my truck ready to drive in the morning.
Winter is coming, and now is the time to get your vehicle ready for the frosty weather ahead. Trust the mechanics at Elizabeth Auto Care to help you keep your vehicle safe on the road no matter what old man winter has in store. Call (412) 384-7700 or stop in with any questions you have about your car repairs.