Tips for vehicle maintenance in cold weather

Tips for vehicle maintenance in cold weather
(Erica Bivens / KPLC)
(Erica Bivens / KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With the icy conditions on the roads and more possibly on the way, it's especially important to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape before this weather hits.

But better late than never. And many are things you should be doing year-round anyway.

Mechanics provided tips to KPLC on everything from getting those frozen car doors open, to fluids you need to check, and even how you may be able to prevent your vehicle from hydroplaning on those icy roads.

Mechanics Brian Doga and Darrell Wilks have been extra busy lately.

With icy roads, there was no shortage of accidents on Friday. And experts at Kwik Kar Lube said vehicle maintenance is extra important in this weather.

"Check your power steering fluid, your transmission fluid, your oil, you want to make sure that all your fluids are correct, and your brake fluid. You want to make sure all those things are taken care of before you get on the road so if something happens on the road, you know you're prepared," Doga said.

Also check the coolant, after the engine has cooled down.

Demonstrating how to do it, Darrell Wilks emphasized, "be sure to add your antifreeze, not just water. Water will freeze in the winter time."

And change your windshield wipers yearly, also be sure to check your windshield wiper fluid.

And while most people know to start their engines and let it defrost before driving anywhere, you might be surprised at how long you should let your car warm up.

"I would probably let it run 30 to 45 minutes ahead of time if possible," Doga said.

"Go back in the house, finish up getting ready, getting dressed, before you go and by the time you come back out and you're ready to leave, your car will be fine, and ready to go," Wilks said.

And tips for opening those frozen car doors?

"You should pour water on top of it. It should break the ice, open real easy. But don't pull from the handle because you might pull the handle off of the door. So, reach up from the cracks of the doors," explained Doga.

And for your windshield, make sure you don't use hot water.

"Hot water is going to crack your window or if you already have a star, it's going to increase it and make it worse. So the best thing is to pour cold water on the windows," Doga said.

Tire rotations are also important to ensure even wear on the tread.

Bald tires are unsafe. Doga says a lot of hydroplaning that happened on roads could be prevented.

And his most important tip to drivers?

"Take their time, look at other drivers, be aware of everybody else that's on the road because your car may be okay but that doesn't mean everybody else's is," Doga said.

Both mechanics said try parking your vehicle facing South. They say that will help your front windows and radiator and should cut down on the amount of scraping you may need to do.

And of course if you aren't sure how to check fluids on your own vehicle, check the yellow pages for any local auto repair shop.