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It’s October, and for thousands of motorists in colder states that means only one thing: winter is on the way.
But as the trees start to turn to golden reds, the winds start to blow and fall quickly turns to winter, here are five things you should do to help your car keep its gas mileage high this winter.
Service your car
When was the last time you had your car serviced? If you can’t remember, the chances are your car really should get a trip to your local garage or dealer for a winter-ready tune-up.
If you work on your own car, make sure you check the car over thoroughly, replacing any worn ignition cables, spark plugs and other electrical items. A perished ignition cable or faulty spark plug can cause a weak spark in the cylinder, resulting in low power and increased fuel consumption.
Worse still, in very damp or cold weather, perished sparking leads can short to the car’s bodywork, resulting in uneven engine running.
You’ll also want to make sure your car is filled with the correct grade of oil as recommended in your car’s workshop manual or owners’ handbook. In colder states, you may find a different grade of oil is needed for winter running than is needed during the summer.
Fuel lines should also be checked, along with water lines and any engine thermostats. An incorrectly operating thermostat can prevent your car’s engine from reaching optimum operating temperature, increasing fuel consumption, engine wear and exhaust emissions while a heating system full of limescale could result a lack of heat in the cabin or worse still, a water leak.
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And while we’re on the subject of water, make sure your radiator has an appropriate coolant/anti-freeze in it to cope with your local winter weather. Failure to do so could result in frozen radiators, cracked engine blocks, and an expensive repair bill.
Check Your Tires
When air cools, it contracts, meaning the air pressure in your car’s tires will also drop.
Under-inflated tires will increase rolling resistance of the wheels, increasing fuel consumption and tire wear too.
If you live in very cold climates, consider buying a set of winter tires to help with grip in heavy snow and ice, but don’t switch your car’s tires over until you know the really cold weather is on the way since winter tires normally have a higher rolling resistance than their summer counterparts.
While you’re getting your tires checked, make sure each wheel is correctly balanced and that your steering geometry and wheel alignment is correct. Poor wheel alignment and badly balanced wheels not only affect handling but they also increase the energy needed to push the car along.