Weather Forecast


Prevention the key to good vehicle upkeep

Waking up to a frost-covered car serves as a reminder that winter is around the corner and now is the time for cold weather car maintenance. Local auto shops keep busy repairing Wadena cars all year long and they encourage drivers to properly prepare their vehicles for the harsh winter weather.

John Wegscheid, owner of John's Car Care Center, said prevention is the key to keeping a car up and running during the winter months and all year long.

"If you keep a vehicle up, it can prevent so many major engine, transmission and cooling problems," he said. "It's important to have all that stuff checked right now. By December it's too late."

Two of the most important aspects of car maintenance are checking on the antifreeze and having good tires, he said.

"[You] have to have the cooling system up to strength so it doesn't freeze," Wegscheid said.

Drivers should avoid driving with tires that are getting bald, he said. Many sources recommended getting new tires when the treads get as thin as 2/32 of an inch, but Wegscheid said the absolute minimum tire treads should be is 4/32 of an inch. He said once tires get that thin they don't have much traction anymore.

"It's cheaper to keep good tires on than to hire a wrecker to pull you out of the ditch," he said.

Keith Van Orsdel, owner of 10-Star Auto Clinic, agreed that having bald tires is one of the biggest problems he encounters.

"Everyone is going to be slipping off the roads because they don't have ... treads,"

he said.

Van Orsdel also emphasized the importance of tire pressure for safe driving. The cold weather causes tires to lose pressure, he said. Drivers should check the pressure of their tires every week this time of year.

Misaligned head lights are another area of concern in the winter, Wegscheid said. Headlights that point down too far shorten the amount of road that is lit up for the driver and headlights that point up towards the trees don't allow the driver to properly see the road either.

"With getting into winter months, it gets darker earlier and people are driving home in the dark," he said about the need for properly aligned headlights.

In addition to the obvious concerns of antifreeze and tires, there are other important things people can do to maintain their cars, Wegscheid said. Tune-ups, oil changes as well as transmission and coolant flushes should all be routine car maintenance.

Van Orsdel said many of his customers ask for a winter check-up when they take their vehicle in for an oil change. His shop has access to a Web site that prints out a list of what needs to be repaired and inspected depending on the year, make, model and miles on a vehicle, he said.

After getting routine maintenance, drivers should pay ongoing attention to any unusual noises their vehicle makes, Wegscheid said. Getting a small problem checked early can help keep it from growing.

"If you let it go," he said, "all of a sudden that little noise turns into a big noise."