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Austin mechanics offer expert advice on car repairs, preventive measures

Published 5:59am Monday, October 15, 2012

Spencer Medgaarden, Southwest Sales

Q. What should vehicle owners do themselves to prepare their car for winter?

A. The big thing is batteries, antifreeze, tires. Make sure your tires are good scoming into winter, make sure your antifreeze is good for temperatures 35 degrees and below, and make sure your batteries are properly charged [and working].

Being a car dealer also, I always like to tell people body-wise to save them, get a car wax. People don’t realize how salt can damage a car, too. A car mechanic will always be concerned with making sure it works, but a dealer will look at the body.

Q. What are the most common winter repairs you perform on vehicles?

A. People want to make sure their batteries are up to the right [charge level], antifreeze is down to 35 below, the tires are good coming into winter. A lot of these things are common. Batteries, radiators, things like that, and definitely tires.

Q. What should people do to extend the life of their tires, and are there any warning signs that a tire could give out soon?

A. Rotate your tires and have the alignments checked at least yearly. As far as warning signs, there’s a little wear bar on the tire. When that gets down, it’s time for new tires.

Q. For people who store a vehicle for the winter, what precautions and methods should they use?

A. Put some gas stabilizer like Seafoam into the gas tank, and it’s not a bad idea to disconnect the battery. You want to make sure your battery is charged as well.

Brian Madsen, Holiday Dodge

Q. What should vehicle owners do themselves to prepare their car for winter?

A. In preparing your vehicle for winter, an owner should check to make sure that they have their emergency kit of candles, blanket and high-energy snack in an easily accessible location. They should also make sure that their snow brush and ice scraper have been put back into the car from over the summer months. As far as car preparation, checking and topping off your windshield washer fluid and checking the condition of your wiper blades will help to beat all of the upcoming slush. Having a shop check your engine antifreeze level and condition to make sure that it is in good shape for the cold as well as inspecting your tires for adequate condition and tread depth. A normal winter inspection will also include the inspection of your fan belts and condition of your engine radiator and cooling hoses.

Q. What are the most common winter repairs you perform on vehicles?

A. By far the most common repairs that we see during the winter months are battery replacement. The cold temperatures work your battery in two ways, it will actually decrease the stored power inside of your battery and make the battery work harder to turn your engine over when you want to start it first thing in the morning.

Q. What should people do to extend the life of their tires, and are there any warning signs that a tire could give out soon?

A. Proper tire inflation and yearly tire alignments are crucial in getting the most life from your tires. Early warning signs of tire failure can range from visual signs like bubbles on the tread surface or sidewall of the tire indicating internal damage to hearing a howling sound that gets louder the faster you go due to the tires not wearing correctly and cupping.

Q. For people who store a vehicle for the winter, what precautions and methods should they use?

A. We recommend if someone is going to store their vehicle for winter, to fully charge and then disconnect the battery to prevent it from being run down over the winter. Just because you do not drive or start your vehicle over the winter does not mean that the modules inside of the vehicle stop working, they do not demand as much power consumption, but they still do draw on the battery. We also recommend if possible to get the vehicle up in the air on jack stands to take the weight off of the tires to prevent the tires from flat spotting once the vehicle comes out of storage. We also recommend that as soon as you bring it out of storage to make sure that you get the engine oil changed to flush out any moisture that may have accumulated inside of the engine over the winter. You have seen frost form on the outside of metal during the winter before, and the same thing happens to the inside of your engine when left to sit over the winter months.


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