Well, it finally happened. Winter in Alaska. I glanced down at my outside temp readout this morning as I started my car and confirmed what I had suspected--negative digits. For those fortunate enough to have a garage to keep their cars warm and toasty, this post is not for you. As the temp outside dips steadily south, take time to consider your vehicle and it's needs in colder weather.
If you don't have an oil pan or block heater installed already consider getting one installed. Some vehicles can support a block heater to keep the engine warm because the engines come equipped with freeze plugs. If your vehicle does not have a freeze plug for a block heater to be installed (VW and Audi come to mind), you can still have your vehicle equipped with a oil pan heater. An oil pan heater is a heating element that attaches to the engine's oil pan and keeps the oil warm. Keeping the oil warm in colder temps is vital to keep the top end of the engine properly lubricated on start-up. Repeatedly starving your engine of proper lubrication on start up can cause premature engine wear and tear. Think of it like molasses trying to move from the bottom of the engine to the top--slow and thick is not good. If you do plug your vehicle in, use a timer and set it for approximately two hours before you leave to prevent the heating element from getting too hot.
A good, strong charging system is also vital to cold weather start-up. If your battery or alternator was borderline during the summer months you can pretty much guarantee failure when it gets cold outside. Electrical components do not like getting cold. Making them work harder when it's cold out only increases your chance of having a battery, alternator, or starter fail. If your luck is anything like mine, your charging system will inevitably fail when it's dark, windy, and way, way, way below zero.
Wiper blades are a commonly overlooked maintenance item. Replace them at least two times per year to guarantee a streak-free view of the road in front of you. Refill your washer reservoir with the proper windshield washer fluid only to prevent freezing inside the system. Folks, we have seen it before. People have been known to use water in their windshield washer systems and really, really bad things happen when it freezes. Same goes with the coolant system. Have your technician make sure that your anti-freeze is up to specs to keep your coolant system well lubricated, at the proper temp, and not too diluted to prevent freezing.
That being said, try to have a warm and safe time as we enter into the Holiday season. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time! Merry Christmas!