Is your car ready for the deep freeze? Five spots to monitor on your vehicle this winter

Friday, November 13, 2015
Dave Burton at Raben Tire and Auto Service in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

When it comes to your car in the winter, petting the steering wheel and coaxing -- or cursing at -- your ride will only work for so long.

Save yourself the time, money and hassle of ice-induced disaster by making sure your car is adequately prepared for winter.

David Burton, shop foreman at Raben Tire and Auto in Cape Girardeau, has tips for the most important things to watch for when the temperature drops.

We asked him for his five most pressing auto concerns. Here's what he said:

1. Fluids

"The first thing you want to do, is always check your antifreeze. If there's a freeze and [your motor] locks up, the motor's done. That's the most important. You want to check all your fluids anyway, but antifreeze especially."

2. Brakes

"Another thing I like to check are your brakes. Stopping ability is a must, obviously ... You can take [your car] in for a brake inspection, they'll take the wheels off, look for contaminants in the brake fluid or cracked brake lines. They can tell you where your brake pads are at. Really, you can do that in the winter or the summer, though, it doesn't matter. You always want to get your brakes inspected."

3. Tires

"Nothing's going to help you in the ice, unfortunately, but you just want a good tread to be on the ground as much as possible. ... Some have a wear bar built into the tire that will tell you when they're getting too worn."

4. Batteries

"Some are 'maintenance free,' but for others, you can have them do a load test ... you want to make sure it holds the load. Cold weather and extremely hot weather will both kill a battery, but it seems like every time you turn around in the wintertime, someone has a dead battery."

5. Windshield wipers

"I guarantee you that about 80 percent of people on the road right now have crappy windshield wipers. Because those are things that you don't think about unless it's raining. People think to themselves, 'Oh, I should get these changed,' but then they forget and never do."


Burton also recommends mixing a bit of de-icer into one's windshield wiper fluid to improve winter visibility. Also, beware of the harsh salt and chemicals that cover the roads in the wintertime, as they can rust out your car's undercarriage.

"But there's nothing you can do about it, really, except for wash it off once winter's done," Burton says.

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