Cold-Weather Car Care Myths Debunked

By: Elizabeth Schilder Email
By: Elizabeth Schilder Email

It's a long-time winter rule of thumb, always give your car time to warm up before driving it. But with changes in technology, has this rule turned into a myth? The answer, opinions are mixed.

"It's always comfortable to get into a warm car, which is nice, but it is a waste of fuel," Gregg Reissmann of Jay's Auto Repair in Schofield told NewsChannel 7.

But Justin Clairmore of Olson Tire & Auto Service disagrees.

"The worst thing you can do is get in it, start it up and get on the gas right away," Clairmore said.

Reissmann says that thanks to innovations in fuel injection technology, the days of waiting for your car to warm up are over.

"You can leave it warm up for thirty seconds or a minute or so, but warming it up for ten, fifteen, twenty minutes is not necessary anymore," Reissmann explained.

He adds that you're car will actually warm up faster while you're driving it than it will running in idle. Clairmore says the important thing to remember is to make sure your oil light is not on and that your oil gauge is reading normal.

"Oil, engine oil, when it's cold doesn't perform as well as when it's warm and liquefied," Clairmore explained.

As for your car's battery, the belief that it's more likely to die in winter is false.

"The hot weather is actually harder on a battery than the cold is because of the chemical make-up of the battery. The real hot weather tends to make the batteries internal chemicals break down faster than in the cold," Reissmann told NewsChannel 7.

Although it's nice, it's also not necessary to have a full tank of gas. Mechanics say just a quarter of a tank will suffice.

"It's definitely better to not get the car too low on fuel. Water builds up in that fuel and when you have a minimal amount of fuel water concentration might be higher and it might make you more prone to having frozen fuel lines," Clairmore said.

Mechanics we spoke to said that using additives that like "HEET" in your gasoline to keep the fuel lines unclogged during winter time isn't a bad idea, but you don't want to over use them.

And what about those sandbags? Will carrying them in your trunk actually help improve traction? Mechanics say this is mostly true.

"For the front wheel drive cars it's not necessary nor is it necessary for the all wheel drive cars. If you have a rear wheel drive pick-up truck or a rear wheel drive car a little weight in the back above the axles is a definite help," Reissmann advised.

Another common problem during the winter is blockages in the lines for your windshield wiper fluid. Contrary to popular belief, it's not because the wiper fluid is frozen. It's actually caused by faulty valves in the lines that allow moisture, like snow, into the reservoir. That moisture is what freezes and causes the blockages.

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