Winter Wisdom for your Cars

With winter on the way (and for some already here), I thought this article could be helpful. Some of this I did not know… some of you smarter car people may already know though. Article from December 2002 Better Homes and Gardens:

Winster Wisdom
Cold-running care to keep your car running all season long

Most drivers fail to realize how hard winter is on their trusty automobiles. Here are a few pointers to keep things like your engine and chassis in top form, and your concentration where it belongs–on the road…

For years, you’ve been told to warm up your car before driving. That’s just a myth born of the need for comfort, according to Tom and Ray Magliozzi, better know as CLick and Clack, hosts of the radio talk show Car Talk.

“The engine warms up most efficiently while it’s being driven, not while it’s idling,” says Ray. So start it up and drive slowly until you feel heat coming out o fthe vents. Then you can take it up to normal speed.

“If it’s bitter cold out or the car stalls when you put it in drive, then you can wamr it up for a minute or so,” adds Tom. “Any longer is a waste of time and gas, and probably an affront to your still-sleeping neighbors.”

It used ot be that you had ot switch to a thinner oil in the winter. “But now, motor oils change viscosities all by themselves,” says Ray.

Most manufacturers now recommend 5W30 oil for year-round use, so go with that. The numbers mean that the oil acts like thin 5-weight oil when the engine is cold and thickens to 30 weight when it reaches operating temperatures.

Never put undiluted antifreeze in your radiator, says Dave Cappert, director of the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. Ironically, the freezing point of straight antifreeze is lower than antifreeze and water. The likely result? A burst radiator. Check the bottle for the proper mix: It’s usually 50-50 or 70-30.

Pouring warm water in the lock won’t help. Instead, dip your key in rubbing alcohol to loosen the frozen lock. Or heat the key with a match or the car’s cigarette lighter before inserting it in teh lock.

You would think parking in the garage would save your chassis from rust, but if the undercarriage is coated with even a thin layer of salt and ice, you could be in trouble. “When salty ice melts, it accelerates the chemical reaction that eventually turns a car into something my brother might drive,” says Ray Magliozzi.

Leave your car in the driveway, out of the relative heat and humidity of the garage. “Generaly speaking, chemical reactions alow down as temperatures drop,” says brother Tom. “That’s why your car battery doesn’t work as well when it’s 5 below zero. By letting that salty ice stay frozen, you are, in effect, suspending the rusting process until you can clean the car.”


  1. La said:

    Good stuff…Thanks

    November 15, 2002
  2. Erin said:

    Just in case anyone wanted to know who added this, it was me but for some reason the site didn’t put my name on the entry. Anyway, enjoy!…

    November 15, 2002

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