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Car Maintenance >> Fall-Winter

Feb 14, 2005 - 8:43:00 PM - Print

Fluids, Diligence Keys to Car’s Winter Health




(ARA) - Fill ’er up with, uh, chicken soup?
Okay, not quite, but as you prepare for the winter driving season, those who make a living driving Ford race cars suggest you should remember to treat your car like you would treat a sick friend: by paying strict attention to those all important fluids.

And, by keeping a wary eye on the temperature. Because, just like that sick friend who is running a fever, your car can -- and will -- overheat in cold weather.

“The first thing that comes to mind is making sure your anti-freeze is good to go,” says Mark Martin, a driver in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series since 1988 and owner of a Ford dealership in Batesville, Ark.

That’s good advice according to Ford factory-trained technicians, who suggest your car’s coolant not only be checked, but, for most cars, flushed and re-filled every couple of years. Improper car care can be devastating in cold weather.

Dale Jarrett, another Ford NASCAR driver and owner of a Ford dealership in Indian Trail, N.C., says that an engine low on fluids can be severely damaged on those frigid mornings.

“Take the time to make sure your engine has all the proper fluids in place because you don’t realize that on those very cold mornings how you can scar the engine, and do something that’s going to create a problem down the road for you,” says the 1999 series champion. “So, just taking it in and getting that maintenance done that you need to have done before wintertime arrives is important. It doesn’t take long. It’s just a necessary trip everyone needs to make.”

Ford recommends that consumers take an active role in fulfilling consistent prescribed maintenance, which would include oil changes every five months or 5,000 miles; checking fluids -- transmission, brake, power steering, windshield wiper and the like -- to ensure proper fill; and, having your battery tested often.

Ford racer Greg Biffle, the only NASCAR driver in history to win championships in both the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series, emphasizes that winter is a stressful time for any car, new or used. And, that can be stressful for you, the car owner.

“One thing you find that winter will do to your car is make it not want to start,” he says. “Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about it -- other than have a good battery.

“Winter seems to bring out the worst in everything. Belts, and things like that, they get so cold. Obviously, the most important thing is have proper anti-freeze in the car so you don’t have a freezing problem. If you have any weak belts or hoses, it seems like winter’s the time those things break. And, you need to make sure the heater works well. You know, basic stuff. Anti-freeze is first off, though, because if stuff freezes up and breaks, then you’re in a world of trouble.”

As a professional race-car driver, Jarrett also know the importance of proper tire maintenance. “Obviously, when we get into a wintertime situation, the chances of the roads not being as good are there, so you need to make sure that you have good tires on your car,” he says.

Ford factory-trained technicians recommend checking not only the tire’s tread, but air pressure, too.

Additionally, take nothing for granted and remember to remember, says Biffle.

“People just think, ‘Oh, it’s okay. It was okay last year. It’s going to be okay this year,’” says Biffle. “Or, they forget that they worked on their car last summer. I’ve had that happen to me.

“The next thing you know, you’re alongside the road filling up your radiator with fluid. People just overlook the basic one thing, and it’s the one that’ll cost you the most.

“If your car doesn’t start, it’s not going to cost you a lot of money. But, if it freezes and breaks the block and the radiator and other things, that is the one thing that is going to cost the most money, and it’s the most basic one to check and prevent -- and a lot of people overlook it.”

For more information, car owners can log on to www.genuineflmservice.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content










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