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Johnson County Automotive steers drivers toward cold-weather car-care tips

Merriam shop suggests ways to combat frigid temps
Alan Heriford, owner, Johnson County Automotive
Posted at 9:34 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 23:43:26-05

MERRIAM, Kan. — Workers at Johnson County Automotive already have thawed out a few frozen windshield washer fluid tanks, but the stretch of brutal arctic weather that's settling in to the Kansas City metro will continue to test the limits of vehicles.

"You’ll notice that if you put [wiper fluid] on the windshield, it still freezes," Alan Heriford, owner, Johnson County Automotive, said. "That's because the methanol evaporates very quickly, and especially with moisture."

In addition to turning on the defroster, Heriford recommended running vehicles for at least 30 seconds so the fluids can get going.

"Steering fluid can be one of those that you'll get that whine, kind of a high pitch whine," Heriford said. "It doesn't really hurt anything, it's just that that fluid is so cold until it warms up, you're hearing it make a little bit more noise."

Snow won't melt in the coming days, so drivers also should check tire pressure and tread. If the tread is half-worn, the tires only provide half the traction.

Web exclusive: Johnson County Automotive offers winter car care tips

"That little flat spot down within the groove, that is a wear indicator," Heriford said, "and so if the weather gets flat with that indicator, the tire manufacturer says that should be replaced."

Those who do get stuck in the snow should turn off traction control.

"The whole point here is when the computer detects that the wheel is spinning, it quits putting power to that wheel," Heriford said. "If you're stuck, those wheels have to spin to get you to move."

There's also one gauge drivers should pay extra attention to – the gas gauge.

"Keep a minimum of a half tank of gas," Heriford said. "And that is simply to make sure that the water, if there is any, water does not have the same opportunity to get in the system."

He also said that with some people still working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people should still start their cars at least once a week for a few minutes.

"Go out take it for a drive around the block," Heriford said. "It generally doesn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes for that alternator to charge things back up and get that battery up to full capacity."