Cold weather can find your car’s weak spots

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ANKENY, Iowa — At the Karl and Penny Moyer Automotive Center at DMACC in Ankeny, they train the next generation of vehicle mechanics. Jerry Burns heads the program. A former truck mechanic, he now oversees instructors who are passing on their knowledge of vehicles.

 “When the weather really turns cold it seems like this, it brings out the worst in vehicles,” said Burns. “If you ended up having a vehicle that was a little bit questionable in fair weather, as soon as cold weather sets in you’re definitely going to be in for  in for trouble.”

The number one issue of concern for all vehicles when the temperature drops is the battery.

“We rely on the batteries very heavily. Most people think once we get the vehicle started be out we’re good to go, ” said Burns. “Vehicles (have) heated seats, heated steering wheels, heated windshield. We’ve got in excess of 20 modules that are on a vehicle.”

Those modules all draw more juice from the battery. For those do-it-yourself types, often it was a practice to just go put in a new battery. Now, that’s not so easy.

“So you talk about changing the battery, not only do you have to remove this bracket to get this loose, but you’ve got all these cable connections and stuff that are up here so when we were talking about you not only changing the battery, but checking your cable connections to make sure they’re clean and tight.”

If your battery is good, the tires are also something you should check. Newer vehicles have tire pressure indicators on the dash board. But owners need to keep an eye on what the tire looks like.

“I’ve got plenty of tread depth but if you actually look a little closer in the tire tread down here we see some cracks that are starting in through here,” said Burns.

That can be caused by what’s called tire rot.

Also the fluid level of your vehicle is important. Oil, coolant, and washer fluid. If you have your car maintained at a dealership or repair place, that often is checked for you.   

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