Drive it all winter long

Published 4:56 am Monday, October 10, 2011

Avoid cold-weather woes with annual maintenance

It may not feel like it, but winter weather is looming around the corner.

October is Fall Car Care Month, which means it’s the perfect time to get vehicles ready for winter.

“Good winterization is a very good idea — there’s no doubt about it,” said Paul Wangen, owner of Wangen Automotive.

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The cold of winter can be unforgiving to vehicles, and the weather exposes flaws, Wangen said. So being proactive is key.

Wangen said it’s important to check any warning lights well ahead of the first snow fall.

Plus, cars are more complex than ever, with more electronics, computer systems and control units, according to Wangen.

“It’s not like it was 20 years ago,” he said.

Wangen also said it’s important to make sure tires have the proper tread.

“You definitely want to take a measurement on your tires, make sure your tires are decent to go into winter,” he said.

Steve Sorenson, general manager at Firestone Complete Auto Care, suggested special snow and ice tires for drivers who have trouble with winter conditions.

Though the tires improve winter driving, Sorenson said, they can’t be used in the summer.

Sorenson also recommended drivers check that their battery is fully charged before winter.

Darrick Schewe, who owns Darrick’s Preferred Auto in Blooming Prairie, tells his customers to bring their cars in three to four times a year for general maintenance — regardless of the mileage.

That way, servicing can be done on the entire vehicle to check for all the little things, and hopefully prevent larger, more expensive break downs.

“Usually, it saves you money in the long run,” he said.

Though most modern cars are more reliable and typically start in cold weather, Schewe said, it’s important to make sure headlights and little things are functioning properly.

Some cars require extended check ups at 100,000 miles, Schewe said, and it’s also important to check the filters and fluid levels.