Time to prep your ride for winter

Hard to believe that fall is right around the corner; time to get prepared for the rains and winter.

Rain, snow, and ice all come with fall and winter. Your tires are your first line of defense between you and the road. Poor tires are just plain dangerous for you and the other people on the road. Make sure your tires are in good condition and are wearing evenly.   Check your tire pressure, the pressure is determined by the automobile manufacturer, not the tire company. You will find your recommended tire pressure on the driver’s door jamb, glove box lid or in your owner’s manual.

Coolant check, 50-50 mixture of antifreeze/water. That will bring it down to -34 the recommended level for winter and so the cooling system doesn’t corrode and rust.

Battery check. A battery receives its electric energy from chemical reactions. The colder it is, the less power a battery has. And on top of this, a cold engine requires more power to crank it over. Cold weather is a test for a battery.  Get your battery checked before it deserts you.

Replace your windshield wipers every fall.

Make sure your heater operation, defrost and air conditioning (A/C) is working properly. A/C takes the moisture out of the air so your windows don’t fog up

Check your washer fluid and operation. Make sure your windshield is clean both inside and out, that the headlights are clean and adjusted correctly. Sight is 99% of the input for driving, make sure you can see.

When driving in the rain, I put Rain-x or another window polish on your windshield. It really improves your vision.

No need to warn up your vehicle before driving, it only wastes fuel and pollutes the air. Just drive without putting the engine under heavy load until the temperature is normal. The only reason for warming it before driving is get ice off the windshield or warms the interior for you.

 

One of the most frustrating problems we encounter a few times a year is high mileage vehicles that start to have multiple problems. To add to this, it gets worse with some of the high tech and performance engines.  We had an Audi A6 with high mileage, twin turbo come into our shop with a coolant leak. We use a device called a pressure checker. The radiator or fill cap is removed and the tool is installed. With a manual pump on the tool, the cooling system is pressurized to about 15 psi. This will show us where the coolant is leaking most times. In this case, we found an electric motor pump call an auxiliary water pump leaking which was leaking out the rear of the engine, under the intake manifold. This is used to boost the   water flow into the heater to increase the heat for the passenger compartment.  On this vehicle, it is put under the intake manifold (very hard to get to, expensive in labor) While fixing this, 4 other coolant hoses in the area were replaced to assure complete repair and ease of getting to them while the engine was “open”. This repair was completed, re-pressure checked and the Audi released to the customer.

About a month later and over 1000 miles later, it comes back with another coolant leak. We install the pressure checker and found that another leak has occurred, this in the front of the engine. The question now comes up, did we repair the correct part and why didn’t we know it was going to leak at a later date. Add to this, this is a high performance engine, expensive to work on. But there is even more, they have not owned the vehicle for that long and didn’t get it inspected by a pro before buying it,

This is how night mares in our business begin. Yes, we are trustworthy. We repaired what was the problem at the time.

And now for the big one, we cannot now or ever, be assured that all the cooling system will not have problems in the future. I wish we could have that power and if we did, NASA, would be hiring us to be able to predict that future of mechanical and electrical failures.

This is an ongoing problem in our business, we even a term for it, “buying the vehicle” That is, our shop repairs something on the vehicle and if anything goes wrong in the future, it is our fault in the customers eyes and should be repaired for free.

That being said, yes, we do make mistakes or get defective parts that fail. In these cases, we are the first to admit we made a mistake and fix it at no charge.

The lessons here are a twofold.  First, be careful in buying a high mileage vehicle without getting it inspected and the shops opinion on how expensive it will be to own. More if it is high performance. Check Consumer Reports so see the dependability on the model of vehicle.

Second, understand that an automobile is a very complex machine. It has more complex by at least a10 fold than anything else in most people’s life. 

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