Car Maintenance – Albany, NY
For those of us living on the northern climes, the battle against winter is a car owner’s annual struggle. Between the slush in the street and the salt on your doors, it seems like every element of winter weather is specifically designed to ruin a perfectly good car – and in many cases, you’d be right.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Northern drivers can still manage to salvage their precious autos with a few key guidelines for proper winter car maintenance in Albany, NY. By adhering to these basic steps, any winter-weathered northerner can sleep easy knowing no snow is going to kill their car this year.
Clear Out the Fall
One of the often overlooked – and potentially damaging – aspects of winterizing your vehicle is actually clearing out the leaves and debris that may have gathered in the cracks and crevices over the fall. This is especially true for those that leave their vehicle outside, under trees that are losing their leaves.
Make sure to clear out the vent beneath your windshield wipers and around the perimeter under the hood of your car. These areas allow water to drain over the vehicle without wetting the engine, and having a blockage of leaves could cause leaks onto the engine block. It’s also important to check around a sunroof and trunk for this same reason.
Confirm that your wheels are leaf-free to avoid damage from composting materials breaking down as well.
Check your Battery
There are few feelings more defeating and frustrating than hearing your engine rev and rev but never turn over – especially in the early morning hours of a cold winter day. On these mornings, you’re going to want a battery that you know will start your car, and having to change a battery in the middle of a snowstorm can be both inconvenient and dangerous.
Simply put, check your battery before it starts to get really cold. Let the mechanics at DePaula check your battery with a voltmeter or charge meter to see how it holds a charge and make sure it will be able to take the increased amps needed to start your car in cold weather. This simple check can save a ton of frustration down the road, and only takes a few minutes.
Check Your Wipers
One of the most common dangers drivers run into in a winter storm is decreased visibility, whether it be because of heavy precipitation or icy windows. This can seriously impact a driver’s ability to react quickly to hazards on the road and can be one of the single most dangerous situations to drive in.
Having good, functional windshield wipers is absolutely critical to maintaining good visibility on a blustery winter day. Make sure to clear off and wipe down your wiper blades prior to any icy precipitation, which can stick to dirt and freeze up your wiper. Many drivers like to swing their wipers away from the vehicle prior to a snowfall, preventing them from freezing under the snow and making clearing the windshield by hand that much easier.
Consider asking your mechanic at DePaula about getting beam style wipers for your car, which lack the metal support bracket found on older wipers. This allows for much more contact with the windshield and therefore fewer streaks and missed spots. Although slightly more expensive, this curved wiper style offers a much better clean in heavy winter weather.
Keep the Tank (Somewhat) Full
This is an age-old piece of winter car advice that’s usually taken at face value and not often discussed. We thought it would be a good idea to dispel some myths, and get to the truth, about this classic warning to winter drivers.
In conventional car care, the idea of keeping a gas tank at least half full in the winter time stems from fears about condensation building up on the walls of the empty gas tank. This condensation could either freeze and block up the lines or could drip into the gas tank and contaminate your fuel lines with water. Both of these could be disastrous to our fuel line and are, rightly, something easy enough to avoid.
This was a major problem in older car models because little technology had been developed to prevent this. Now, though, in most modern cars the gas tank is vapor-safe and air tight, meaning it is unlikely that any condensation would form in a newer model gas tank. That means this problem has sort of been solved for many drivers – if you’re willing to take that risk. Still, it’s always a good idea to keep your gas tank fairly full in inclement weather anyway to make sure you’ll stay warm in the event that you get stranded or encounter an emergency.
Depending on where you live, you may already be very familiar with snow tires. Some towns and states require that drivers use snow tires or snow chains depending on the road conditions, and drivers who fail to comply could face fines. It’s best to know the law in your area regarding snow tires and act accordingly.
These can come in several forms, but most popular are either removable chains that wrap around a tire, or specially-made snow tires with deeper grooves and strategically-placed metal studs for traction. Although some municipalities dislike snow tires because of the damage they can do to roads, they are often necessary for particularly bad conditions.
The friendly mechanics at DePaula can install snow tires on your car to help you get though even the slushiest conditions this winter, so give them a call today.
Brake Check is a Must
If you haven’t had your suggested annual brake check done recently, there are few better occasions than the onset of winter to get this done. As any experienced winter driver can tell you, functional and reliable brakes are an absolute necessity on icy and low-friction roads. By making sure your brakes are up to snuff before the snow starts falling, you reduce your chances of getting caught in a spin with brakes that can’t help.
Heating System Rundown – Exhaust, Vents, Defrosters
For your car to properly heat itself – and its passengers – it has to be able to effectively push hot air through from the engine to the exhaust. Once you begin cranking the heat regularly, any problems in your heating system are going to become immediately apparent. It’s in your best interest to give your heating system a thorough rundown prior to heavy use – make sure the vents are clean, your exhaust is clear of ice and debris, and your defrosters are working properly. These are quick fixes to small problems that, if left untreated, can become a huge, huge issue.
Oil Change and Antifreeze
Just like any other time of the year, your engine needs the right fluids to keep going. In winter, when things begin to get colder – and thicker – your engine will be struggling, even more, to get going. By making sure your engine has plenty of clean oil and enough antifreeze to keep it from icing up, you pretty well guarantee that your engine will be in top condition for even the snowiest, most frigid drives.
A Clean Light to Guide the Way
Dirty, foggy headlights – the kind of problem you never think about until it’s too late.
In winter especially, it’s highly important to have bright, functioning lights. This not only helps you maintain your own field of vision but makes you visible to other drivers on the road as well. Dim lights can be hard to see in heavy snow, and so it’s important to drive confident knowing your lights are clean and in full working order.
These are super simple steps to take to make sure your vehicle won’t freeze up when old man winter comes kicking at the tires. If proper car maintenance is the secret to a car’s longevity, then proper winterization is the secret to a safe and enjoyable cold driving season. Head over to DePaula today and get all the right service to get your car winter-ready, before it’s too late.