Although you might be staying home these days, your car still needs to get out. Automobiles can’t sit idle for too long or else problems will ensue, especially during the winter. Here are some tips on how to keep your vehicle vital:
WATCH YOUR TIRE PRESSURE
The cold weather causes tire pressure to fluctuate because the air inside condenses and then leaks out. "Make sure your tires are up to pressure," says Mike Taliercio, owner of Pro Lube in West Babylon. "Every car’s tire pressure is different. Check the manufacturer’s specs on the inside of the door [or use the car manual or the internet for directions]."
DON’T LET YOUR BATTERY DIE
Keeping your battery alive is imperative especially if your car is not moving more than usual. Purchase a battery tender to maintain its charge. "A battery tender automatically keeps the battery at its proper voltage so it doesn’t drain all the way down," says Henry Pagliocca of Grand Prix Tire and ABA Auto Collision in Copiague.
DRIVE YOUR CAR WEEKLY
Cars cannot be left for long periods of time and then be expected to work. It’s essential that they hit the road.
"People should be going for at least a weekly drive on the highway for 10-15 miles," says Steve Trimboli of Pit Bull Motors in Freeport. "Cars need to accelerate and be driven."
MONITOR YOUR GAS TANK
Leaving gas in your car’s tank for too long without regular use is a recipe for engine trouble. "If gas sits too long in the tank it will gum up and cause problems in the fuel delivery system," says Pagliocca. "Putting in some fuel stabilizer can prevent that from happening."
LEAVE TIME FOR A WARM-UP
Always bring your car up to temperature in the winter before driving.
"It’s always best to give your car 10-minutes to warm up," says Trimboli. "Run the car with the defogger on but make sure it’s in an area where the exhaust won’t backdraft into the house."
TAKE CARE OF YOUR WINDSHIELD
Be careful when cleaning snow or ice off the windshield making sure not to cause a crack or aggravate one that was forming.
"If you already have a chip in your windshield, you could get some moisture in there then it will freeze and crack," says Anthony Abiuso, president of the Long Island Camaro Club. "Insurance companies urge you to call them to put on some epoxy to seal it."
IF YOUR LOCK IS FROZEN, DON’T FREAK OUT
Sometimes extreme cold can cause door locks to freeze up. There are a few methods to fix this problem.
"If you have a key, heat it up with a cigarette lighter and that should loosen it up. You may have to do it a couple of times," says Abiuso. Meanwhile Trimboli suggests blowing hot air on the lock, "A hairdryer is the safest way to go. It won’t do any damage and works like a champ."
HAVE AN AUTO CHECK LIST
Make sure to check that your front and brake lights are working, the wipers are not worn-out and the antifreeze level is correct. "Keep an eye out for coolant leaks coming from under your car in the cold," says Trimboli.
DON’T LET YOUR CAR BECOME A NEST
An unused car has the potential to become makeshift shelter for rodents "Ferrel animals can crawl up into your car from the bottom and nestle inside to shield themselves from the cold," says Trimboli. "I’ve opened the hood and found rodents who have gathered wiring pieces and casings then made homes out of them in corners of engine compartments."
GOING TO THE EXTREME
For car collectors, auto maintenance is more intense. Owners go the extra mile when caring for their valuable vehicles.
“The minute there’s sand or salt on the ground, that’s it. All the cars get stored,” says Henry Pagliocca of Grand Prix Tire and ABA Auto Collision in Copiague. “If not, you’re going to get paint chips from it and the sand gets into all the little crevasses.”
Collectors typically jack up their cars off the tires so they don’t develop flat-spots. Each automobile typically is covered and stored indoors with stabilizer in the gas tank and a battery tender attached.
“A lot of the hot rod cars today come with summer only tires,” says Pagliocca. “You don’t want to drive them in the cold weather because it’s unsafe. Those tires have no grip whatsoever.”