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Basic Engine Care For Cars This Winter

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Basic Engine Care For Cars This Winter

Kimberlie Hutson
December 17, 2008

Kimberlie Hutson

Winter isn't the nicest season to be driving in; it requires extra diligence and even the most experienced drivers can find themselves in some scary situations. However, it doesn't matter how safer driver you are, if your car isn't in top condition you're putting yourself and others at risk.

Before you set off in the morning make sure your car is clear of any ice, clearing a small patch in the windscreen in front of the drivers' seat is not going to be sufficient, or legal, you need to make sure all your windows and mirrors are clear. The most effective way to remove ice from your windscreen is going to be a good old-fashioned ice scrapper and can of deicer. Don't be tempted to pour hot water over your windscreen; this could result in you cracking your windscreen. Don't be tempted to improvise an ice scrapper either. Your credit card and CD's were never designed to clear your windows, at best they will just scratch your windows which you may not notice until you're driving into a low winter sun and the glare is almost blinding you. It is much cheaper and easier to buy an ice scrapper and can of deicer than to replace your entire windscreen. If your car is going to be parked all day at work and there's a chance it could freeze up again, make sure you have a spare can of deicer in your car.

If, when you drive off, you can hear a high pitched squealing noise there's a good chance that your water pump and/or cylinder block is frozen, this is not safe and if possible, you should stop the car and wait until they've defrosted.

Anti freeze should be added to the radiator and screen wash. Typically anti freeze won't freeze until it reaches temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius (with a 40/60 ratio). When water freezes it expands and this could result in your engine cracking, also, anti freeze contains corrosion inhibiting compounds, which will also benefit your engine. Antifreeze should ideally be replaced every two years to ensure it's able to do its job as effectively as possible.

Make sure the engine oil is comfortably between the minimum and maximum mark on the dipstick, check this when the engine is cold and the car is flat. Now you're confident your engine is safe, check out your tyres. If you're going to be driving in icy conditions you're going want to know you're as safe as possible. If tyres are over inflated they are going to have less grip on the road (under inflated tyres are going to increase fuel consumption so always consult your manufacturers hand book). It is illegal to drive with tyres with less than 1.6mm tread and it's illegal for a reason, if you don't have enough tread on your tyres you reduce your risk of being able to stop safely when you break. If caught, you could face a fine and points on your licence (which is nothing compared to the prison sentence that comes with a death by dangerous driving conviction). If you're not sure if your tyres have enough tread and you don't happen to have a ruler on you, you can check the little bars molded into the tyres, if they have worn down to these bars they need to be replaced, if your still not sure, replace them anyway, its better to be safe than sorry!

If your car starts to make any noises which it shouldn't, it is best to have a qualified mechanic look at it. This is not ideal weather to be waiting for your breakdown service to rescue you in.

Race lubricants online shop offers an extensive range of engine oil and lubricants to help ensure your engine stays in the best possible condition this winter. They also have a technical help section where you can ask one of their engine experts for any help you may need.

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