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Keep Your Car Running In Arctic-Like Conditions

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Temperatures reached dangerous numbers on Monday with even deeper wind chills getting close to -50 degrees. These weather conditions can be tough on your car and you certainly do not want to be stuck on the side of the road.

Car troubles seem to happen more often in extreme temperatures, making you take your car into places like 1st Avenue Auto Service in Wausau. There are all kinds of winter-care questions, like if you start your car during your lunch break does that make it easier to start it after work?

"What happens is if you only run it for a few minutes, all you did was drain the battery a little bit," said Tom Martens, owner of 1st Avenue Service. "If it started over night, it'll start when they get done with work."

Or, how does frost get in the inside of your car?

"It normally comes from moisture inside the car," he said. "If you're tracking a lot of snow and ice on your floor boards, when that gets warm that becomes humidity and that gets on the windows."

Should you warm up your car and for how long?

"It's recommended that you get the vehicle up to operating temperature because it just helps everything. The exhaust system will dry out then, and you won't have that condensation sitting in there."

Warming up your car will also allow all of your cars fluids, like your engine and brake fluid to thin and run better. Martens said it's up to you for how long you want to run it, but Daniel Malone of Midas in Wausau says five to ten minutes in this weather should be good enough. Marten also said to warm up your car in a well ventilated place to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

"You could be sitting in your car warming up in the open air parking lot and carbon monoxide will still linger underneath the vehicle. It's never recommended to start your car and warm it up and sit in it."

Martens said start up issues and weak batteries are the most common problems that come in. Malone also said metal parts also tend to get brittle in the cold and break more easily, but maybe the cold isn't the cause for the issues.

"This particular one here, he was low on anti-freeze and I'm sure he's had the leak for a while and it just didn't register until it got cold enough where he had to have the heat all the time," said Martens

Both mechanics said most problems are preexisting and the cold weather just makes them more noticeable.

"The big thing with any time of the year is the maintenance issues," said Martens. "Make sure your car is tuned up right. Change your filters, your air filters, your fuel filters. People have to be more aware of how their vehicles are operating and that usually eliminates a lot of issues."

Simple things you can look for are fluids leaking and listen for unusual sounds. If you have your own questions about winter car care, mechanics said, don't be afraid to ask them.


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