An Editorial by dieselmann
Volume 6; November 99: Winterization
Winter may not be officially here, but where I grew up--New Hampshire--winter was not restricted to December 22nd to March 22nd. Now is the time to have you're vehicle ready for when the weather turns really nasty. You should make the same preperations as you would for a vacation because, not only is it incovenient to be broken down far from home, it's also to be near home and stranded in a winter storm.
It seems like every winter season, the first rains bring a rush of customers in for wiper blades. The myth of sunny California ends at Thanksgiving here in the north valley, and the long summer is brutal on wipers, drying them out to where the only streak making visability poor.
Tires are another area which is generally ignored until the weather is wet. Oils from leaking cars and residue from tires accumulate on roads, which become slick with the first rains. You should make sure your tires with the best tread are installed on the drive wheels, and that the tread is sufficient to prevent hydroplaning. In areas where it snows, you should have your snow tires installed, or have a set of chains handy where required.
With the daylight hours shorter, you'll need to make sure all of your lights are operable. And because so many of us tend to forget their lights are on, you'll need to have your battery and charging system checked as well. This includes checking the drive belt condition and adjustment, and having the battery terminals cleaned and tightened.
You should have your cooling system checked for freeze protection and for leaks. Severe engine damage can occur if your coolant freezes, and a low coolant level can prevent proper heater and defroster opertation. Your windshield washer bottle, too, should contain a solution which will not freeze.
Water in your fuel becomes more of a concern in the winter for gas and diesel engine alike. Water freezing in a fuel line will prevent fuel from flowing to the engine. Gasolene should be treated periodically with "fuel line anti-freeze" or "dry gas"; diesels should have a non-alcohol based conditioner added to the fuel to disperse water and prevent it from freezing and to keep the fuel from gelling. Diesels owners should drain their water seperators more frequently in the winter.
And speaking of diesels, now is the time to get your glow plug system checked and repaired if necessary. Also, if you own an older IDI diesel and the engine does not come up on high cold idle, it's possible that the cold start switch is not closing and you injection timing is not advancing for cold start. Do not go out and buy starting fluid for this winter--the money you save on needed repairs now may end up costing you more if you cause internal engine damage by using these products. If you have been using single-viscosity oil in your diesel, you'll want to drain and refill with a multi-grade which will be thinner at cold temperature. Thicker oil will cause your engine to crank slower, and this along with the increased draw from the longer glow time may result is a no start--I once had two Olds diesel which had 30 weight in them, and neither would start at 20° F. If you know thw temps are going to dip very low you may want to plug in your block heater.
In closing, I would like to add that you might want to keep some items in your vehicle just for general purposes or emergencies, whether you are traveling this winter or staying near home; not all of these things will apply to all areas:
Ice scraper, snow broom, squeegee
Dry gas or diesel water dispersant
50/50 mix of antifreeze
50/50 or premix of windshield deicer
Extension cord (for block heater)
Tire chains (where applicable)
A small tarp
A poncho or cold weather clothing for emergencies
Warm hat and gloves
A small shovel
A small bag of sand (for traction)
Emergency food if traveling, or if there is a chance you may be
stuck in your car somewhere; ie: breakfast, energy or granola bars.
Extra cell phone batteries!
Charles David Ledger; dieselmann©1999
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