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Performance Specialists Since 1963

Dead of Winter

2019-01-11 - Scott Hart

Disclaimer: Direct from ipd’s Tech Tip archive!  This tech tip contains information from previous publications.  Products mentioned may not be available or the information may not be accurate due to changes in supply, manufacturing, or part number association.  Please contact ipd Customer Support if you have further questions.

Do you know why they call it dead of winter? I think it's because car parts like to wait until the coldest day of the year to return to that great parts shelf in the heavens. If you live where a cold winter day means frost on the windshield, you probably won't find much of this relevant, however if you live where a car can get perma-nently frozen to the ground, read on.

Preparation is the key to automotive survival in cold climates. You don't want to be changing your windshield wipers in 30 degree below weather or jump starting your car when booster cables become rock solid and inflexible, making the task a major undertaking.

The Easy Stuff

Don't forget the anti-freeze, but don't over do it. Too much antifreeze can be just as harmful to your engine as not enough. Read and follow the instructions on the container. Be sure that your wiper wash fluid is topped off with a good winter fluid that won't freeze in the container or on the windshield. Put on a fresh set of wipers since they get a lot of abuse this time of year and clear vision is critical to your safety in avoiding winter emergencies. Your car's battery works triple time during the winter. Have it and its connections checked by a reputable auto electric shop. Have them check your belts and hoses as well, as they are under more stress this time of year and if marginal can easily leave you stranded. The exhaust is often overlooked in the winter as it is just too cold to worry about. Have it checked for leaks for the following reason. If you slide off the road and have to wait for any significant time for help, a leak can let carbon monoxide build up inside of the car and the results can be deadly. If you are in a real cold climate where the temperature spends several days below freezing, find out what the locals are using to keep their cars warm. Most common is an englne block heater. These usually require professional installation as they replace an engine soft plug. Some magnetic stick-on units are also available. Your local dealer or independent Volvo repair shop should be able to help. Make sure your heater/defroster is in good condition. Always scrape and defrost all window before driving. If the only clear area on your windshield is the size of a bread box, you'll be an accident waiting to happen!