How to keep your car in check during winter months

It’s the time of the year where taking care of your car should be a priority, but it’s something we often forget. But forgetting can lead to costly repairs and a trip to the maintenance shop. (Who wants that?!) 

One car service manager shared tips with me, some more important than others, for keeping you and your vehicle in-check during the winter months. 

“Making sure your tires are inflated properly is probably the most important,” Nick Williams, a service manager at Don Joseph Toyota in Kent said. “If they’re over inflated you’re going to have worse traction in the snow, and if they’re under inflated: kind of the same thing.” 

Even though salt always seems to build up on your vehicle during the winter, you should stop at a car wash before spring.

“We see a lot of rust. It makes things like your brakes hang off, your brake pads, stuff like that,” Williams said. 

Sometimes scraping ice off your windshield can be a workout — causing some people to wonder if you can damage your windows with that dollar-store scraper.  

“Not if you use a good quality scraper with a plastic edge on it. Obviously don’t use anything metal. That can scratch up the glass and some of the laminates they put on the glass,” he said. 

Car coolant, also known as antifreeze, protects your engine from overheating. It’s a good idea to check this and washer fluid levels once your vehicle has traveled some distance.

“If it’s an older coolant, Toyota’s recommendation is around 100,000 miles,” Williams said. 

It’s actually a common myth that your gas will freeze if fuel levels are too low. Gas does not have a clear freezing point like water; it would have to be between negative 40 and negative 200 degrees outside for gas to freeze — quite unlikely here in Northeast Ohio.  

“That was back in the days when we had steel tanks, and they condensate and you would get water in your fuel. If you get water in it, gas stations aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. 

Now remember: don’t get bold if you’re in a smaller car and try to drive over large mounds of snow. However, backing into your driveway may help vehicles struggling to pull in forward. 

Stay safe, Portage County! 

Jenna Borthwick is a TV2 reporter. Contact her at [email protected]