Winters can bring harsh and ever-changing weather conditions. Driving hazards such as limited visibility, black ice, avalanche-prone areas and snow removal equipment are just some that may be encountered on winter roads. Only travel in winter weather when necessary, leave enough time to safely reach your destination and plan your route to avoid snowy and icy areas and steep hills. Remove snow and ice from all vehicle windows, mirrors, lights, turn signals and license plates. Make sure you turn on headlights to see and be seen, and that you turn off cruise control. Try to avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually. When driving in the winter, one of the best things you can do is to reduce the speed you are driving. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions. Do not slam on brakes. Apply steady pressure on ABS-equipped vehicles and pump the brakes if necessary on non-ABS vehicles. Keep additional distance from other vehicles. Typically this should be three seconds or three car lengths. When the weather or road conditions are less than ideal, this should be increased. Also be aware of the potential of black ice. As the temperatures warm up, or the sun melts some of the snow, it can then refreeze into the form of black ice. This is dangerous because you typically do not know it is there, until you are driving over it. Also remember to keep your fuel tank at least half full. This helps to ensure you have enough fuel to reach your destination. It is also recommended in order to prevent the fuel lines from freezing up. If you are in an accident or stranded, you will want as much fuel as possible so you can keep running your vehicle to stay warm.
The radiator in your vehicle actively dissipates heat that builds up in the cooling system. As coolant runs through the radiator, the walls of the internal passageways start to develop a thick layer of scale. Debris running through the cooling system may also cause a blockage to develop in those tight radiator tubes. When this happens, the radiator’s cooling abilities drastically decrease. When one component fails to work properly, other parts throughout the cooling system also run the risk of failure. The three parts that commonly cease working after the radiator goes bad are the thermostat, water pump, and heater core. Each engine size and configuration has a specific ideal operating temperature. To control the temperature, the thermostat sits at the end of the bottom radiator hose and directly regulates the flow of water through the cooling system. When the engine reaches ideal operating temperature, the thermostat opens and allows the cooling system to flow freely. When the radiator stops working correctly, too much pressure is put on the thermostat, often causing it to stop working. When the thermostat fails, the valve inside gets stuck either open or closed. With a closed thermostat, your engine will immediately start to overheat. You can tell the thermostat is stuck closed by carefully touching the radiator hoses. The top one will feel hot, yet the bottom hose will remain cold. When the thermostat sticks open, the engine will never reach operating temperature, which negatively impacts gas mileage. The water pump uses an impeller to continuously move coolant through the hoses and passageways of the cooling system. On most engines, the impeller is actually made from plastic materials. Any contaminants or tough debris breaking away from the radiator will cause abrasions and other damage to that part. If the radiator stops cooling the fluid before it moves past the impeller, the high temperatures could also cause damage to the plastic parts. Make sure you notice if your vehicle starts to run hotter than normal, or your vehicle is overheating. By making an appointment, we can inspect the vehicle for you.
Having a reliable vehicle is important, especially in the winter. You will want to make sure that the battery is in the best condition possible, so it is able to start your vehicle effectively. In the winter, there is an increase in failure for the battery. This is because, when your vehicle gets so cold, it requires more power from the battery to get the engine going. Therefore, if for whatever reason your battery has not been properly charged then your car is more likely not to start. It should also be considered that there are a number of other factors that could put strain on your battery. This can include if you have left your car lights, radio or heater on while the car’s engine was off then this will all require energy from your battery. You should always make sure that all of these things are turned off when your car’s engine is switched off. Similarly, it is best to make sure that they are off before starting up your car so as to reduce the amount of power that is required of your battery upon start up. During the winter months you are likely to be using your lights, fans, windscreen wipers and rear wipers more often, all of which require power from the battery and will slow down its ability to charge. If your car fails to start first time around, you may still be able to get it up and running. Try to start the ignition in five second bursts and allow around 30 seconds between attempts. You also need to think about how old your battery is. Over time, batteries lose their ability to charge and eventually it will get to the point where it will no longer be able to hold charge at all. Therefore, if your battery is around five years old then it may be time to change it so as to avoid battery failure. If you notice an issue with your vehicle, make sure to schedule an appointment with us. We can inspect the vehicle and the battery to ensure they are in the best condition possible. By having the battery working efficiently, you can help to improve the chance that the vehicle is reliable this winter.