by Lauren Fix, The Car Coach
Get your car ready for winter now and avoid costly repair work later. Trusted car expert Lauren Fix, The Car Coach, offers tips on cold weather preparation, how to clear the hurdles of cold weather driving, and how to know when it’s time to buy a new vehicle.
Icy temperatures can take their toll on your vehicle. Car batteries lose 35 percent of their power at 32 degrees and up to 60 percent at zero. For every 10-degree change in temperature, your tires will lose one pound of pressure.
The change of seasons is a good time to check your car’s various systems to see if they’re working properly. Cold weather could make any current problems much worse. The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. Winter magnifies existing problems like hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling.
Lauren Fix’s Tips Include:
Check and Change:
- Check and/or replace your wiper blades. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
- Make sure heaters and defrosters work properly.
- Use cold-weather washer fluid.
- Make sure all exterior lights work properly.
Tires & Brakes:
- Check your tire pressure once a month against the number inside your driver’s door. Also inspect your tread; use a penny to check tread depth.
- Winter tires are like snow boots and offer the best traction. Switch to winter / snow tires when temperatures drop to 45°F.
Continental Tire actively promotes the fact that summer and all-season tire tread compounds become harder and more rigid as temperatures drop below 45°F, resulting in decreased grip whether the roads are dry, wet or covered by snow. Winter / snow tire tread compounds remain flexible at lower temperatures, increasing traction with the road to provide better grip.
The WinterContact SI (Snow and Ice) is developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles. Designed specifically for snow and ice traction, the tire tread stays pliable in sub-zero temperatures, enhancing its grip on slippery road surfaces. The WinterContact SI boasts consumer-friendly alignment indicators and its PoloarPlus Technology reduces braking distance in wet, snow and ice. It’s worth the investment.
- Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
- Emissions are a HOT topic right now. Check engine lights can be a sign of engine or emissions issues that should be addressed. This can reduce your engine life and increase maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle.
If your current vehicle won’t pass the emissions test without a major repair, the solution is here. The DynoValve is the world’s first digitally-controlled PCV valve system that reduces harmful emissions, improves performance, lowers maintenance costs and increases fuel mileage.
This small part will not only allow you to pass the emissions test, it also offers environmental benefits, including reduction in harmful emissions like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons. The California Air Resource Board certifies that the DynoValve cuts back emissions 50% to 90% depending on make and model of the car, which also improves your fuel economy (typical increase in MPG range from 5 –15%).
- Keep your gas tank at least half-full throughout the cold weather months to prevent moisture from forming in gas lines and possibly freezing.
- Have an ASE technician check your vehicle before the temperatures dip.
Buying a New Car
If you are in the market for a new car, here are a few money-saving tips. The most useful tips on buying and maintaining a new car may seem obvious – take a second look.
- Go for a test drive – Know which features are important to you before you head to the dealership; safety, space and styling are a few of the most common priorities. If you’re looking for a top pick in safety and sophistication, make sure to check out the 2016 Kia Sorento. The re-designed Sorento earned a 5-Star NHTSA rating in addition to 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick designation. It’s also larger, more sophisticated and more capable than ever, with added room for passengers and cargo and improved towing capacity (5,000 lb.) with the smooth 3.3-liter V6. For winter driving, the Sorento offers an AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction. The system also provides drivers with the added security of Torque Vector Cornering Control (TVCC). Built in the USA and starting around $25k, consider taking the Sorento for a test drive.
- Make dealers compete – When shopping for a car, know exactly what you want and the invoice price, which you can find online. Dealers will often give special pricing to Internet shoppers. They know they are in tough competition because Internet shoppers request quotes from many dealers.
- Shop on a rainy day or at the end of the month– If you are looking to buy a new car, go to the car lot on a day when the weather is bad. Chances are that they will have fewer customers that day, and they’ll be begging for business. The end of the month is a great time to consider your purchase, as bank rates change and there are sales goals to be met by the dealers. You will probably get a better deal and more money for your trade-in than you would at any other time!
- Choose your options wisely – Some add-ons can increase the car’s resale and lower your insurance bill too. Certain options like alarm systems, anti-lock braking systems, stability controls or side impact air bags are wise choices and will keep you and your passengers safer.
- Consider buying certified pre-owned vehicles – Buying a one or two year-old car from the dealer can save you money. If the factory warranty is still good, you could get a car with 95 percent of its life left for 20 percent to 30 percent less than the cost of buying new.
- New car rebates are meant to lure customers into buying new cars. They do so with these major types of rebates:
- Loyalty rebate: These are given to buyers who are trading in and purchasing a car of the same model and/or make. Example: trading in your Audi for another Audi, or any other brand for the same brand.
- Conquest discounts: These are the opposite of loyalty rebates. Conquest rebates are offered by a manufacturer to lure you away from the manufacturer of your current car. For example, if you currently own a Toyota, General Motors might offer you $2,000 to buy GM instead of Toyota.
- There are other discounts to add on as well. Military personnel and students are often given rebates and incentives designed just for them.
Before you buy, search for additional new car incentives and rebates but note that there are a few things to consider. First, beware of the time frames given. Rebates expire if they aren’t used within a certain time. Meanwhile, sometimes incentives expire, leaving the buyer with a higher interest rate and even higher payments. For example: 0% interest rates on the first 12 months over a 36-month loan. In addition to regular rebates, there may be others deals available at a manufacturer’s website.
If you plan to accept a manufacturer’s rebate, don’t let the dealer add that during the negotiation. A rebate is your money from the manufacturer (not the dealer) and is deducted once the price of the vehicle has been agreed upon. The current recession has created a unique window of opportunity for those hoping to find rebates and incentives. If you can find an older model on the lot, insane deals are sure to follow.
Pack the Essentials – Emergency Kit
- Carry an emergency kit that includes the following essentials: LED flares, blanket, small shovel, sand or kitty litter (for increasing traction), snow brush/ice scraper, jumper cables or jump starter, flashlight, extra batteries, cell phone charger, gloves, boots, blankets, hand-warmers and high-energy snacks.
If you are a winter sports enthusiast, are traveling in the mountains, or are planning a long drive across country to Grandma’s house for the holidays, consider carrying snow chains. They may be required in order to drive on certain roads or over a mountain pass.
The Car Care Council’s free, personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you take better care of your vehicle this holiday season and throughout the year. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive safely, save money and make informed decisions. “Be Car Care Aware” this season and get your free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide.
Remember, the secret to a safe winter is to “see and be seen!”