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How winter weather takes a toll on your car and what to do to prevent it

Winter street in Columbia
Snow Covered Street in Columbia


Winter weather can do a number of vehicles kept outside. With single- and negative-degree temperatures ahead, it's important to know how to prepare a vehicle for the extreme cold snap.

The ABC 17 Stormtrack Team is tracking temperatures in the single digits on Saturday and wind chills that could drop them below zero.

Steven Heimericks, a technician at A to Z Auto Repair in Columbia, said the cold weather can affect a car's battery, cooling and heating systems and tire pressures. To help minimize these issues, Heimericks said it's important to give cars time to warm up before using them.

"I would at least give them five to 10 minutes and let them warm up," Heimericks said. "Your transmission has fluid in it that gets thick when it's cold [as well as] engine should give it time to thin out and lubricate better."

Warming up a car for a few minutes before using it also keeps the battery in better health.

"Give the battery a little bit of charge, before you take off [and] proactively get your batteries tested before the cold weather gets here," Heimericks said. "Batteries don't hold up well in the cold weather. It makes them work harder, so they don't do as well."

He also recommended getting a car battery tested at least twice a year and said the average battery life is around 38 months.

During cold weather, Heimericks said at the shop they see a lot of problems with batteries, alternators and heating issues. During winter weather with freezing rain, snow and slick roads, the autobody tends to see more body issues with cars hitting curbs and bending suspension components.

Heimericks said with the winter weather and lots of salt and brine from the roads rubbing onto cars, it's important to remove that to prevent damage to the paint.

"It's a good idea to wash it every once in a while even when it's cold like this just to get all [the salt] off every now and then," Heimericks said.

Heimericks said that if a car can't be kept in a garage it's important to take extra precaution to keep it running well.

"Put something on your windshield to make sure your wipers don't freeze to your windshield or stick them straight up so they can't freeze to the glass," Heimericks said.

He said if possible, to keep the car in a garage to keep it a little warmer and keep it from being out in the rain and the freezing snow. Heimericks also said it's important to check tire pressure during cold weather.

Columbia / Top Stories / Winter Weather
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Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


1 Comment

  1. And don’t fill your garage with junk and park your car outside. Even starting a car at near zero temps produces more wear and tear on your engine than starting one in a garage where temps could easily be 30 or 40 degrees warmer.

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