TAHOE/TRUCKEE - While maintenance of your vehicle is a year-round responsibility, the change of seasons is a critical time to be sure you are up to date on your maintenance and take care of a few winter specific items.
Freezing temperatures, salt and sand on the roads and snowy/slushy conditions are just a few of the hazards you encounter each day you get behind the wheel. The last thing you need spoiling your holiday plans is an unnecessary roadside breakdown.
Starting a vehicle on a zero degree morning takes some major voltage from your battery. If you are experiencing any sluggishness or your battery is more than five years old, replace it with a new one. If you're questioning how much life is left in your battery, a battery test is available at your local maintenance and repair.
When purchasing a battery, you usually get what you pay for. If you go cheap, you may regret it at the most inconvenient time. A reliable shop will steer you in the right direction, and although they may charge for installation, this will include cleaning all your cable connections and the assurance that it is installed correctly. They will also dispose of the old battery in an environmental friendly way.
Be sure your Antifreeze (coolant) is full and the right mixture. Too much water will cause it to freeze, and your car will overheat. An auto repair shop can test the mixture for you and if needed perform a flush and refill with the right mixture.
It doesn't matter how well your vehicle is running if you don't have solid contact with the road. Old Man Winter's bag of tricks is full of slippery road conditions, from piles of slush to feet of snow on roadways and along shoulders. Add to that a hill like Northwoods Boulevard, Glenshire Drive or just your own driveway, and you've got problems if your tires are not up to par.
The legal limit for tire tread when chain controls are up is 6/32 of an inch. In my opinion, anything less than 8/32 (1/4") should be replaced before you become intimate with a ditch, or worse, another vehicle. Stretching your tire usage is just not worth it.
There are several good local tire shops that sell tires specific for our region and weather. Most will even rotate your tires and fix flats at no charge for their customers.
Are you one of those who are constantly rolling down your window to flick your wipers? Time for new blades. It takes a good wiper blade to keep you seeing clearly. Winter blades will cost you more but are worth the extra investment when that 18-wheeler passes you and sprays Interstate 80 sand and muck onto your windshield.
Have your maintenance/repair shop install the blades to be sure they are fitted and mounted correctly. Nothing is worse than seeing your new wiper blade fly down the road in your review mirror.
Always be sure your washer fluid reservoir is topped off with a freeze-protected washer fluid. It's not hard to go through half of the reservoir on one trip over the summit. Never use water. It could freeze and may even damage or break the plastic washer pump, which could leave you without washers and be an expensive fix. If you put water in the reservoir this summer, purge the system thoroughly and refill with freeze protected washer fluid.
A visual inspection by a qualified maintenance/repair shop of your belts, hoses, fluid levels and brake system could save your life. Hanging out on the side of the road in winter is four times as likely to cause an accident as in summer. That's not something you want to be involved with so take the time to have these items inspected and replaced if needed.
- Sheila Greeno and Mark Jacobson work with Quality Automotive and Smog, located at 11357 Deerfield Drive in Truckee. Learn more about the business at www.qualityaut omotiveandsmog.com.