Tips for Consumers: Winterizing Your Car

Tips for Consumers
Winterizing Your Car

Now that the cold weather is upon us, we always alert folks in the Hagerstown area to be sure their cars are ready for winter. Here are some important BBB tips:
* Check your wipers and washers. Make sure they are in good working order and your washers are filled with washer fluid that is appropriate for cold weather. Depending on conditions consider buying winter wiper blades.
* Check your battery and electrical system. Make sure the cables are clean of corrosion and the connections are tight. It takes more power to start your car when cold. If you have an old battery, don't take chances; just replace it now.
* Make sure your coolant system is working efficiently. Have your mechanic check the level, pH and concentration of radiator fluids. A mixture of 50% anti-freeze and 50% water will protect down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit; do not exceed 70% anti-freeze or it may overheat.
* Be sure your tires are good. Thin or uneven tread wear does not provide good traction and can be very dangerous in winter weather. If there is uneven wear on the treads, have your alignment checked by a professional.
* If you park outside where the weather gets extremely cold, add a de-icer or dry gas to your fuel every time you fill your tank with gas. This can keep moisture in the fuel system from freezing.
* Change your oil and oil filter. Check your owner's manual for the different grades of oil that are recommended for winter. Don't assume you have the right grade; modern engines have different performance needs in cold weather.
* Have a professional inspect your air filter, rubber hoses and drive belts. Old, damaged or loose hoses and belts can spring leaks or rupture in severe weather conditions.
* Inspect all lights to assure they are working properly.
* Be sure your heater and defroster are working properly for safety and passenger comfort.
* Have some safety supplies in the car "just in case." The best item is a cell phone to call for help, but also equip it with an ice scraper, spare bottle of washer fluid, boots, gloves, flares, blankets, a flashlight with fresh batteries, a small shovel and some sand for traction. Consider joining a travel club like AAA.
Finally, use a reputable auto service shop. Check their BBB report.

To file a complaint visit: www.baltimore.bbb.org or write: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Their office serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.