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Expert advice on preparing your car for bitterly cold temperatures

Cars in Downtown Columbia during extreme cold
Cars in Downtown Columbia during extreme cold


With frigid temperatures sweeping through Mid-Missouri, experts have some advice on how to keep your car running smoothly.

The ABC17 Stormtrack Weather Team has issued a weather alert day for Sunday and Monday as bitterly cold temperatures stay in the area.

The store manager of Firestone Complete Auto Care in Columbia Vinnie Green said there are multiple things you can do to maintain your car in the arctic air.

Start your vehicle a few minutes before you hit the road

While many start their cars early to avoid shivering, Green says this can actually help out your car too.

He said giving your car a few minutes to get closer to the normal operating temperature can help avoid damage to your engine.

"The engine is designed to operate at a high temperature," Green said. "Oil is really thick when it's colder so it's not really getting properly lubed while it's running."

Check the pressure of your tires

Green said every ten degrees the temperature drops tire pressure by about 1 PSI. He said to make sure your tires are inflated to the correct PSI listed inside the driver-side door and not the tire itself.

"That does affect your gas milage and also the tread life of your tires," Green said. "If you are running on low for an extended period of time you also run through your tires a lot quicker."

And he said tread is important when it comes to driving in the ice and snow, so it's always important to monitor the condition of your tires.

He also mentioned checking your spare tire to make sure it is still up to speed in case you do get a flat tire.

Check your anti-freeze

Green said drivers should check to make sure the antifreeze in your is at the right boiling point and acidity level. He said there are at-home testing kits, or any auto shop should test it during routine maintenance.

Green said making sure you have good coolant or antifreeze will keep your engine warm in the frigid temperatures.

"If you don't it would be like running water through your engine," Green said. "Water freezes at 32 degrees and if you have wind chills are -10 degrees that's not really doing to help your engine."

He said that could potentially lock up your engine, or do some harmful damage to it.

Test your battery to make sure it's working properly

"It makes your car start, you wanna have a good battery!" Green said.

He said about 1 in every 4 car batteries are bad, so making sure to test your car's battery at an auto shop is good practice. Drivers can also check the connection of the battery to the engine under the hood to make sure it's on tight.

Check your windshield wipers and wiper fluid

With winter weather, the roads are usually covered with salt and chemicals that can get on your windshield. Green said double-checking your wiper fluid level is always a good idea to ensure visibility.

Green also said a good rule of thumb is to replace your wiper blades once a year.

Have a backup plan

In case you do get stuck out in the freezing cold, Green recommended drivers have jumper cables and a pair of gloves to get your car going.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol always encourages drives to have a winter weather kit in your car, including blankets, snacks, water and anything else you may need if you get stuck during the cold weather.

News / Top Stories / Top Stories / Weather / Winter Weather

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.


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