AAA of Western and Central New York has issued a set of “cold weather car tips” in anticipation of the high winds, snow and wind chills expected to arrive today:
• Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up and ensure that you have extra “running time” if the weather is unfavorable.
• Be sure you have the proper amount of antifreeze in your vehicle. Antifreeze works to prevent engine block freezing. Also, be sure to check your entire cooling system, including hoses, belts, and radiator; to make sure it is functioning properly.
• If door locks are frozen, be sure to warm the key or use a lock de-icer. Be sure to never combine heat with lock de-icer as it is flammable. Don’t pour warm water on the car as it may re-freeze, making the situation worse; warming your key first will help heat up the lock from the inside.
• Although modern cars only need 15 to 30 seconds of running time after a cold start, AAA still recommends warming up your vehicle for at least five to 10 minutes before heading out. Warming your vehicle allows oil and the engine to warm up, as well as the heat and defrosting systems. At all times, make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust or exhaust system leak could cause deadly carbon monoxide to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
• Consider winter wiper blades and “no-freeze” windshield washer fluid. Motorists should replace worn wiper blades and always carry extra windshield washer fluid. AAA also recommends not turning your wipers on until they’re clear of ice and snow.
• If possible, avoid using your parking brake in below-freezing weather as it may freeze in the locked position.
• Protect your vehicle from the cold by using a garage if available. Heat from a recently driven vehicle’s engine will warm the ambient air in a properly insulated garage and make your vehicle easier to start in the morning; plus, your vehicle will also be clear of ice and snow.
• Be sure your vehicle is fully equipped with a winter driving kit. The most important safety items are a fully charged cellular telephone and emergency road service coverage; small bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, “non-clumping” kitty litter); a small snow shovel; snow brush and ice scraper; traction mats; flashlight with batteries; windshield washer fluid; cloth or roll of paper towels; booster cables; blanket; protective clothing – heavy gloves, scarf, warm boots; warning devices (triangles); first aid kit.