Protecting your car during frigid temperatures

Kent County

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — If you have to drive in this week’s frigid temps, mechanics urge you to take a few steps to prepare your vehicle.

“Extreme cold weather is hardest on the battery,” said Al Schwinkendorf of Verburg’s Automotive Services on Cascade Road SE near Grand Rapids.

He recommended getting your battery tested, especially if it’s close to or more than 4 years old.

“The problem is (the battery is) weak and you don’t know it, so the alternator overworks and you kill an alternator needlessly,” he explained. “Whereas If you just replaced the battery on time, that would still be fine.”

Check your antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels, and make sure the washer fluid is rated for use in below-zero temperatures. You can find the rating on the front of the bottle.

“Hopefully any (washer fluid) that’s sold in Grand Rapids right now is at least -20, -25, but they have different grades,” Schwinkendorf said.

>>Online: NHTSA winter driving tips | Cold weather fuel economy info

Verburg’s also urges you to check your lights and your tire pressure. Frigid temperatures decrease tire pressure one pound for every 10-degree temperature drop.

“This time of year, I like to cheat and if the tire calls for 36 (psi), if it were mine, I’d just put 38 (psi) in them and then you’re safe,” Schwinkendorf said.

Finally, if it’s time for an oil change, don’t put it off. The worker who does it will thoroughly check your vehicle at the same time, ensuring it’s ready to withstand the frigid weather.

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