How to Prepare Your Car for Another Ohio Winter

Sarah Huston, Staff Reporter

The cold weather is slowly creeping in here in southern Ohio as we have begun to see morning frost on our car windows. These last few months of Fall are the perfect time to get your car ready for winter. Frozen doors, engines that will not start, and car accidents are all things that drivers would like to avoid this season. Before the snow hits, there are a few things you should have done to your car to ensure you are prepared for winter. One way to prepare is to make sure a few basic things are in order which you can do yourself or get your car looked over by a mechanic.

In an interview with Tony Knittel, of Trent & Tony Knittel’s Service Center, Inc., he said that one of the most important things to have checked is the level of antifreeze in your vehicle. “The strength of your antifreeze should be good for about 35° F below freezing.” Antifreeze is very important to keeping the water in your engine from freezing during extreme temperatures. You should also make sure your windshield wiper blades are good and that you have an ice scraper in your car.

Another important feature of your vehicle to look at is your tires. Having a good amount of tread on your tires will help your car have traction on the icy roads. In Mr. Knittel’s auto shop, they use a device called a Tread Depth Gauge. You can either purchase your own gauge or visit your local mechanic to have your tires checked. This device measures the depth of tread on the tires and anything under 4/32” or 3mm is right at the minimum depth and the tires should be replaced soon. Tires that are close to going bald are more likely to be punctured by debris or cause hydroplaning on wet roads so make sure you check the tread before you drive in snowy weather.

Other things that you want to have checked to keep from being stranded in the cold is the car battery and the filters. “Batteries often go dead,” said Mr. Knittel. “A good rule of thumb is about 2-3 years for the maximum battery life.” “You used to be able to get 5-6 years out of them but with advancing technology, the Bluetooth and navigation features on cars draw more amperage off the battery and they need to be checked often.” You can check how old your car battery is by looking at the sticker located on it that tells the month and year it was last replaced or charged. You should keep this date in mind so you can expect when your battery needs to be replaced.

If you make regular trips to your mechanic then chances are that they have checked your filters, but if you haven’t then you may want to at least get your air filter checked and replaced before winter. Mr. Knittel says, “When its cold outside your oil becomes thicker, and when you go to start your car it needs more fuel to start.” “If the air filter is restricted, then there is more of a chance that you can flood your car because you can’t get the proper air flow through that filter.” Your air filter keeps the dirt and grim out of your engine and help it to run right so its very important to make sure it you have good filters before winter hits.

Even if your car is in perfect working condition accidents can still happen. If you happen to be stranded somewhere it’s a good idea to keep and emergency kit somewhere in your car stocked with items that could save your life. Some items to put in your kit that are recommended by the  National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) are extra gloves, boots, blankets, road flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter to put under your tires to gain traction, tire chains, a flashlight, extra batteries, cell phone, extra car charger, and some high-energy snacks. Knittel also suggests keeping a pair of jumper cables and a booster pack in your emergency kit. “Batteries have a tendency to try and build a charge even if they are dead, so its possible to get a jump and make it down the road a few more miles if you’re stranded.”

Trent & Tony Knittel’s Service Center, Inc, located on Lincoln Street in Portsmouth, checks the above features and more with each oil change and offers Shawnee State University students a 10% discount upon showing their student ID. Stay safe this winter by making sure you are fully prepared.