In Colorado, late summers often abruptly change to winter on a dime. As we’ve seen countless times, the news stations spotlight the first snowstorms, and the toll that it takes on unprepared commuters and their vehicles. We asked Gary Bryan, owner of Wheat Ridge Auto Service since 1980, what critical winter vehicle checkups should be performed before the snow starts falling:
• Ensure that quality premixed antifreeze/coolant is filled to the proper level. The summer heat may have caused fluid evaporation, so now is the best time to check
• Windshield washing fluid with antifreeze, and working pump function, is imperative to help clear windshields of road spray and magnesium chloride buildup that impairs visibility; also, check windshield wipers to confirm that they are functioning properly
• Heat is distributed in the cabin via a blower motor that is often susceptible to failure. If when engaging the heater, you hear squealing or squelching noises, it’s time to replace the motor ASAP
• Defroster function should be tested to ensure ice buildup doesn’t lead to dangerous visibility impairment
• A small, portable lithium battery jump starter that includes a flashlight and USB output ports to charge cellphones and other devices, is an affordable insurance net that might really save the day
• Invest in good snow tires or all-season tires with adequate tread
• Keep your fuel tank full to add weight for better traction
For vehicle operators and passengers, it is not uncommon to be parked for many hours or overnight on roadways in subfreezing weather. It is imperative to keep an emergency winter kit with basics to ensure comfort and safety; most notably, water, food, warm clothes, gloves, blankets and a first aid kit. Full details can be found via the NOAA (National Weather Service) Building an Emergency Winter Supply Kit for Your Car webpage: www.weather.gov/ilx/winter_drive2_social.
Most important, don’t be an idiot unless you’re competing to win a Darwin Award.
Gary Bryan is the owner of Wheat Ridge Auto Service, 9205 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge; 303-421-2447.