Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter Weather

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Cold weather is hard on your vehicle, and can cause already compromised components to fail. After long summer road trips, autumn is the perfect time to inspect your vehicle to ensure that vulnerable parts are in good shape. These parts include:

Battery And Cables

Very cold weather can cause even newer batteries to lose their charge, so you should inspect your battery for possible flaws that might inhibit its ability to keep itself charged. 

The terminals on top of your battery, as well as the clamps that secure the charging cables to the battery, should be checked for corrosion buildup. This is caused by exposure to moisture and appears as a white powdery film on the terminals and inside the clamps.

To look for corrosion, you must remove the cable clamps by loosening the nuts that hold the clamps in place. If corrosion is found when the clamps are removed, you can remove the corrosion with a piece of light sandpaper. Be sure to remove the corrosion from both the terminals and inside the clamps.

After replacing the cable clamps, you can spray the terminals with a corrosion inhibitor from your local auto parts store.

Check for bare spots along the cables (look for exposed copper wire). If exposed wire touches your vehicle's metal body, your battery will drain. If a small bare spot is found, you can wrap it in electrical tape, but if the cables are generally worn (color is faded in different places) or frayed near the clamps, the cables should be replaced.

If your battery still tends to lose its charge spontaneously, you should take it to a local auto parts store. They will usually test it for free.

Belts And Hoses

Winter weather is tough on belts and hoses because it will cause them to contract from the cold then become hot and expand when the vehicle is running again. Multiple expansions and contractions may cause cracks and imperfections to form in belts and hoses.

Extremely cold weather will cause rubber hoses and belts to lose their elasticity, and become hard and brittle. Your belts and hoses should be somewhat pliable to the touch, without any visible cracks or blemishes.

If you hear a sound that resembles birds chirping when you start your vehicle or accelerate quickly, that is a signal from your vehicle that a belt needs to be tightened or changed. You should take it to an auto repair shop as soon as possible because the noise is produced from the friction of the belt rubbing against the pulley wheel that turns it. The heat from this friction will accelerate the deterioration of the belt, leading to belt failure.

For more information or assistance with your repairs, contact a professional like those at Budget Automotive Center.