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Winter Car Maintenance & Driving Tips to Avoid Auto Repairs

Shoveling_Car_Out_of_SnowIt’s snowy. It’s icy. It’s winter in Montana! It also means it’s necessary to do some routine maintenance on your vehicle to prevent more costly auto repairs. Follow these tips to take care of your car – and your wallet!

Be prepared to dig out. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s WHEN. We all get stuck from time to time, whether you’re stuck in a parking spot after nightly snowfall, or you’ve gone off the road and into a snow bank. Be prepared to dig out rather than “rocking” your car by throwing it into forward and reverse to get unstuck. Transmissions can be seriously damaged when wheels spin at high speeds and the car remains stuck. The result? A very costly transmission repair! A better, wallet-friendly solution is to have a snow shovel and some sand or basic cat litter on stand-by in your trunk. Spread the sand around your times to provide traction and you’ll be out in no time.

Keep fluids properly filled. It’s important to maintain the correct fluid levels and to do so using the correct substance.

  • Windshield-washer fluids – Be sure to use a types that won’t freeze in your climate or it will freeze and crack your reservoir and pump.
  • Engine coolant – Make sure it’s the right strength and in good condition. Coolant needs the right amount of anti-freeze. Too little and it can freeze and cause cracks. Too much and prevent proper circulation and lead to heating problems.
  • Gasoline – Keep your tank half full to prevent fuel line freezing. If you’re going to be parked for an extended period, filling your tank is a good idea.
  • Oil and transmission fluids – It may be wise to try synthetic engine oil or transmission fluid to reduce wear and tear on components during harsh weather.

Watch the road for hazards. Winter driving presents special challenges.

  • Potholes –The freeze/thaw cycle results in potholes that can do significant damage to your car – unbalanced tires, bent rims and axles, and broken springs are just three. Avoid these nasty holes whenever possible.
  • Ice and snow debris from other vehicles – Keep your eyes open for snow and ice sliding off other cars. If they hit your car, both can cause serious damage on impact.
  • Bridges and overpasses – These always freeze before regular pavement does, so use caution as you drive over them.

Check your tires. If you haven’t checked your tire pressure lately, it’s very likely low. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, tire pressure decreases by about one pound. Not only does tire pressure improve your fuel economy, it also provides much better traction on slippery roads. The correct PSI (or pounds per square inch), is listed on the driver’s side doorjamb or in your owner’s manual.

Finally, it’s important to remember that summer and all-season tires have reduced performance at cold temperatures, even when the roads are dry. Ideally, winter tires are the best option for climates where temperatures regularly fall below 45 degrees. If you do drive on all-season tires, just know you’ll need to adjust your driving in winter conditions to get the best performance out of your tires.

If you find yourself in need of new tires, routine maintenance or auto repair, Roemer’s Tire Factory in Missoula is your one-stop shop! Give as a call!

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