stock winter car snow

Since a car is one of the most expensive purchases an individual will make, it’s typical to want to care for it. With winter weather hanging around for a few more weeks, Cleveland-area auto professionals offered suggestions about how to care for a car with the additional problems cold weather can bring.

According to Jarrod Bencar, service director at Bedford Nissan in Bedford; Ryan Frick, service manager at Mercedes-Benz of North Olmsted in North Olmsted; Michael Leikin, general manager of Leikin Motor Companies in Willoughby; Corey Steinberg, used car and inventory manager at Mentor Kia in Mentor; and Tony Tokman, president of CARSTAR VIP in Bedford Heights, car owners should focus on a couple of things when doing regular winter maintenance.

“First and foremost, tire pressure is important from the view of driving,” Tokman noted. “In the winter, it is obviously colder. So, tire pressure isn’t going to be correct, it’s going to be lower. So, track that accordingly. Also, it’s good to always have gas in your tank because you never know if you’re going to get stuck on an empty tank. Even keeping a shovel in the back of the car is a good idea.”

Leikin said, “In Cleveland, changes in temperature leads to changes in tire pressure, typically causing the ‘tire pressure warning’ light to go on. The appropriate ranges of tire pressure can be found inside of the gas flap, or inside the driver’s door jam.”

Steinberg said the biggest danger tends to be the roads themselves, not other cars.

“With the rain and snow freezing and melting, the roads can be a hazard,” he explained. “The most important part of the car to look out for is the tires. If the treads get low and ice gets packed in there, that is what makes you slide. If you have all-wheel drive, that’s great. But, if not, we suggest winter tires.”

Frick noted drivers should also regularly check their fluids and battery.

“Check to make sure your battery is good so the vehicle will start properly, and that all the fluids are topped off,” he said. “That includes your windshield wiper fluid. Also, check that your wipers are in good condition so you can see on those rainy, icy days.”

Bencar said, “The biggest concern is the car battery, as they tend to get weaker in the cold weather. The main concern customers should keep an eye out for would be the battery’s condition. You don’t want to get stranded in a storm with a dead battery.”

Generally, car storage doesn’t have a big impact on a car’s health. But storing a car inside or under a cover does protect the paint and undercarriage from developing rust because of the constant salt and water.

“It’s always good to store your car inside so you don’t have to clean it off,” Steinberg said. “But, with storing outside, just be cognizant about how long the salt, chemicals and whatnot have been sitting on the paint.”

Bencar noted individuals should let their cars warm up before driving, whether they are storing them inside or not.

“Fluids can thicken up in the winter, so it’s a benefit to start your car and let it warm up before you go,” he said.

The professionals all said regular winter maintenance is important to retaining your car’s quality, even if being outside working on your car is the last thing you want to do in cold weather.

“Winter driving in Cleveland can be treacherous, so making sure you have good tires and brakes, and plenty of wiper fluid is the best way to stay safe,” Leikin stated.

Frick said, “You want to have your car ready to go. You don’t want to get stranded. Say you’re on your way home from work, out for dinner or try to start your car at the beginning of the day, and something goes wrong. You don’t want to put yourself in that situation. Preventative maintenance will prevent all of that from happening down the road.”

Tokman said caring for your car is just like caring for your teeth.

“Why is it important to keep up with the ritual of brushing your teeth? That’s the health of your mouth and this is the health of your vehicle,” he explained. “The better you care for your car, the longer it will serve you. It’s an investment, one of the largest investments in our lives. So, care for it.”

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