As the temperatures drop to the negatives, students at Minnesota State University, Mankato must put in more work in order to upkeep their cars during the winter.
Ben Cacka, a junior at MNSU studying Automotive Engineering Technology and a salesperson at NAPA Auto Parts, offered a few tips on the matter.
“Get your battery tested for free at an auto parts store before it gets too cold,” Cacka said. “This prevents you from having to replace your battery on the coldest day of the year when it decides to die on you.”
Many believe that their car batteries die because they neglected to start their cars for days while the temperatures outside are low. According to Cacka, that is rarely the case.
“Your car should start just fine as long as there’s nothing draining your battery,” Cacka said. “The main cause of batteries dying are because the battery is just old and it’s time for a new one or something is slowly draining the power such as a light being left on.”
He mentioned that it is not uncommon to see people needing to jumpstart their cars or get the batteries of their cars replaced altogether during the winter.
Aside from the batteries, the engine of the car needs to be maintained as well.
“Let your car warm up five to 10 minutes before you start driving,” said Cacka. “This allows for the engine to get closer to the temperature that it runs at which protects it in the long run from wear and tear.”
According to Cacka, allowing the car’s engine to run for a few minutes prior to driving helps the heat work sooner too.
He also advises car owners to keep at least half a tank of gas in their car on days that are projected to be very cold.
“It’s in case of an emergency,” Cacka said. “If you slide into a ditch or get stuck and have to wait for someone to pick you up, it will allow you to keep the car running longer so you don’t have to stand out in the cold.”
His last tip is to routinely check the pressure in all four tires, especially during colder days.
“When it gets colder the air in the tires condenses which causes them to lose pressure,” said Cacka.
Sam Ertl, an Associate Professor in the Department of Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering Technology at MNSU, shared the same advice.
“I always keep a tire pressure gauge in my glove compartment,” Ertl said. “I check the tire pressure every couple of days or when it starts to look low.”
Ertl warned against driving in the winter with flat tires.
“It’s extremely dangerous,” said Ertl. “But it’s a common mistake I see people make while driving around town.”
Ertl strongly advocates for having good tires in the winter which not only includes checking their pressure often, but also replacing them when the time comes.
“Getting new winter tires will keep you the safest, and in my mind, it’s the best investment you can make for your car,” Ertl said.