AAA offers tips to maintain cars in winter

By Steve Carasso

With winter still far from over, motorists should be familiar with some basic driving and car maintenance tips to help them make it through the season.

Last week’s extremely low temperatures and snow accumulation made it hard for many motorists to start their cars and to drive without getting into an accident.

The American Automobile Association has a booklet free of charge called “How to Go on Ice and Snow,” which provides motorists with driving safety tips and winter car care maintenance hints.

The booklet gives several techniques on how to brake on ice and snow, how to handle front and rear brake skidding, how to start your engine in the cold and procedures on how to stop safely and steer carefully.

Lewis Pukelis, manager of public affairs for AAA, gave some suggestions to motorists to help them maintain their cars during winter driving. Pukelis said it’s important for motorists to keep good maintenance on their cars so as to prolong the life of the car.

Keeping locks lubricated to prevent freezing, inspecting wiper blades for wear and tear, keeping window washer fluid full and keeping the gas tank full of gas are important, said Pukelis.

Additionally, car owners should make sure the antifreeze is full and tested to 30 degrees below zero, check the car battery for cracks and bulges, properly inflate tires and never warm a car up in an enclosed area, he said.

Pukelis said drivers should be especially careful when they jump start their car.

“Make sure your battery is not frozen, because if it is, it might explode when you jump start the car,” he said. “I suggest that motorists check their car owner’s manual for proper jump start techniques.”

When the weather breaks into a warmer period, it is beneficial to wash and wax the car in order to remove the salt from the body and windows. Washing the underside and the wheel wells of the car is important because rust is prone to those areas, Pukelis said.

Jeff Messerole, owner of The Car Doctor, 1422 East Lincoln Hwy., said his business usually increases during the cold spans of the winter because of low batteries and flooded carburetors. He said motorists should keep their cars well tuned and make sure the spark plugs are good to ensure that the engine will start.

NIU senior Dennis Huffmon, economics major, said he felt keeping a good snow brush, having snow chains and driving a four-wheel drive car were his tips for safe winter driving.