MENTOR, Ohio --
We all have the potential to make costly mistakes behind the wheel when the snow begins to fall. Joe Severini, a Certified Master Technician from Auto Experts in Mentor, said a little care would keep us on the road without incurring unnecessary expense.
Severini said one of the biggest mistakes motorists make is using their windshield wipers when they are buried under snow.
“There’s too much weight on the wipers,” said Severini, explaining that wipers aren’t meant to push anything more heavy than rainfall.
“Wipers have a little motor and a linkage system called a transmission, that’s all made out of plastic. Any kind of weight on those wipers, you try to turn them on with a lot of weight on then that little transmission can’t take that kind of pressure,” he said.
Severini recommended leaving the wipers standing up if snow is in the forecast.
“You can just come by and scrape your window clean, put your wipers down, you’re good to go,” he said.
Severini said extremely low temperatures will zap a battery. Any mechanic could do a simple test that would show how much life was left in a battery.
“Cold Cranking Amps is the ability of the battery to start a vehicle at zero degrees,” he said.
Severini said a good battery should give a motorist 600 Cold Cranking Amps or CCAs early in its life, and should last about five or six years. He said a battery should be replaced when it’s about 40% low on CCAs. The good news is a dying battery tends to give off warning signs before it goes.
“You’ll start hearing it crank a little slow and think to yourself, 'There’s something not right there,' that’s usually a good sign your battery is done.”
Severini also said motorists can’t afford to ignore a throaty rumble coming from the front of the car. It’s an indication of a leaky exhaust, and it's nothing to mess with in cold temperatures when the windows are rolled up tight.
“You’ll get hot gasses rising up, and it mixes with the fresh air intake for the heater, and that will send carbon monoxide gas into the inside of your car, and that can be very bad for you,” he said.
Finally, if you value a heater in cold weather, Severini recommends you check your antifreeze. If it has what he describes as a chalky, milk-shaky consistency, it needs to be changed, but the CMT recommended motorists not do the work themselves to prevent air pockets from forming.
“An air pocket will cause you to lose your heat--it can cause you to overheat. You don’t have that cooling system properly filled,” he said.
It's advice that should keep your cold-hard cash in your warm and toasty pocket.