FAIRFIELD COUNTY — With meteorologists predicting another possible round of winter weather next week, car care post snow/ice storms should be prioritized by motorists.
Local experts are urging drivers to have their cars checked now for small winter damage that could cause big problems later.
According to service adviser Warren Varnadore at Wilson Car Sales in Winnsboro, first and foremost is checking tire pressure and second is replenishing anti-freeze and coolant fluids.
As many drivers learned, cold temperatures can freeze door locks, drain batteries and ice up fuel lines, leaving some stranded out in the cold.
Varnadore advised motorists to restore any supplies used out of an emergency kit including blankets. He also recommended visually inspecting the battery to ensure there is no corrosion on the terminal.
With the formation of potholes after the winter weather, Varnadore said drivers need to check their tires’ treads.
“A tire is built to disperse water and if it is low on tread or is not sitting evenly on the surface, it will not work properly and could leave a motorist in an unsafe or unstable driving condition,” he noted.
Varnadore emphasized the importance of tires to a driver’s safety and stated that even though South Carolina vehicles use all-season tires, driving is still hazardous in the event of winter storms.
“Even during inclement weather those tires are very unsafe to drive on,” he said.
Varnadore advised that front-wheel drive is better than rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive is preferred if it necessary to drive during winter weather.
Drivers should go through these six steps in post-storm car care by checking:
• Tire pressure
Under-inflated or worn tires are common problems that can be dangerous on slick, icy roads. In winter’s lower temperatures, the air pressure will drop in a cold tire.
The right motor oil reduces friction between moving parts and cleans away harmful dirt and contaminants in the engine. Cold temperatures can make fluids thicker and create unwanted friction. The right antifreeze/coolant mix is also important in colder temperatures to keep the engine from freezing.
When the filter gets clogged with dirt, leaves or other contaminants, the engine has to work harder to pull clean air into the cylinders, which can reduce fuel economy. Air filters should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles.
A weak battery is unreliable and may take longer to start on frigid winter mornings. Frigid temperatures can reduce a vehicle’s battery power by up to 50 percent. After a blast of cold weather, have the battery tested to make sure it has enough cranking power to withstand the next dip in degrees.
Check to see if your wiper blades streak across the glass. If so, they need to be replaced. Also check the level of your wiper fluid reservoir. Good visibility is critical when driving, and it is often a challenge in the winter to keep a clean windshield with all the ice, snow, salt and road grime flying around.
• Emergency kit
An emergency kit should contain a flashlight, extra batteries, water, flares, blankets, a small shovel, a snow-brush and an ice scraper. Kitty litter or sand can be spread under tires to get better traction on icy patches.