Our Midwestern winters are snowy, freezing, and cold; it’s not a great time to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. And yet, it could just as easily happen to you—and you could be the unintentional cause. So how can you avoid making one of those inadvertent mistakes with your car?
Filling your radiator with water
This is a recipe for disaster: your radiator fluid is low so you add some water. A month later, you add more. Then more. Then more. Before you know it, winter has set in, you have no radiator fluid, a broken engine block, and a very expensive repair bill. Always make sure that you add antifreeze and water to your car, or ask your mechanic to do so at your next oil change.
Ignoring the signs of a failing battery
Does your car start rough? Are you sporadically stranded because of a random dead battery? Or are you driving around with a 5-year-old battery? All of these problems are signs of a failing battery. Make an appointment with your mechanic right away to find out if your battery is the cause of your rough starts (there could be other causes as well), and to get that old battery out so you’re not stuck with a dead battery.
Skipping oil changes
If you normally do your own oil changes, this is understandable. After all, who wants to get frostbite from changing your oil? However this omission, though understandable, can lead to big engine problems that can leave you stranded at the worst times. If you don’t want to deal with frozen finger this winter—and you don’t want to damage your car—schedule monthly oil changes at a local repair shop until the temperature rises.
Ignoring warning lights
For one of our friends, disaster almost hit when she ignored her brake warning light. A few minutes later, she was sliding through an intersection, and it wasn’t from the ice. The takeaway? Don’t ignore your dash warning lights—and don’t assume they mean nothing. We’ve wrote about the most common warning lights in our recent post, and what you should do about them.
Not checking your tire pressure
Low tire pressure can cause your tire to go flat—making a few minutes of cold fingers worth it so you don’t have to change your tire in the middle of a snow bank. To check your tire pressure, first find out what is the right tire pressure for your car. You can find it on the sticker at the bottom of your driver’s side door frame. Unscrew the cap on your tire stem, and push the top of the tire pressure gauge into the stem. Depending on the type of pressure gauge you have, the amount of tire pressure should show up digitally or via looking at the numbers on the white bar that pops up. Worn tires can also cause impromptu flats so have your tires checked by a mechanic. They can help you determine if it’s time to get new tires on your car so you don’t end up freezing and calling for a tow.