Get your car ready for … gulp … the winter bluesWritten by Nick Shultz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m just the messenger, so please don’t shoot me. The weatherman is saying that it might snow.
We’ve already had a hard frost in the region and there is no warm weather in the near forecast. Webster’s Dictionary defines cold as “the absence of heat.” We have sure had an absence of heat as of late. There’s not much we can do except prepare for the long winter ahead.
I know I must sound like a broken record when I preach preventative maintenance all the time, however, it sure beats breakdown maintenance all to heck. I’ll run through the checklist as quickly as I can.
Your vehicles: Change the fluids and have the electrical system checked out. If it’s time to have your coolant system serviced, “Get ’er done! If your plugs have more than 75,000 miles on them, you had better pull them out and take a look. Worn plugs mean hard starts in cold weather, so if the plugs are worn they need to be replaced. Put your two best tires, or your mud and snow tires, on your drive axles. If your tires are worn thin and you’re on a tight budget, at least buy two new all-season tires and put those on your drive axles, and the two best remaining tires on the other axles. Looks like we could be in for some snow this winter. Check your brakes! A pulling brake can cause you to lose control on the soon-to-be-slippery roads. Please don’t forget to check your air and fuel filters.
Winter exacerbates any problems that may be present with your vehicles, so please don’t procrastinate and service those items now.
Don’t forget to put your winter emergency kit together and place it in your vehicle (blanket, flashlight, chocolate, etc.).
Snow blower: Pull her out and dust her off, folks; the snow is coming. Drain the old gas and oil and replace with fresh. Check the spark plug and replace as necessary. Pull the side covers off and check for slop in the main rotor bearings. If the main shaft has grease fittings, make sure you lube them. Don’t forget to lube the throttle cable as well. Check all the bolts for tightness. Those high RPM snow blowers tend to rattle the bolts loose. If your blower has a battery, then load test it as well. Make sure you start the blower and let her run for quite some time until it warms up good. Now might be a good time to put the snow removal clothes together, too.
No sense in waiting until the last minute to find your scarf and mittens.
Lawn mower: Yes, now is the time to deal with the mower, too. Fill up the fuel tank with fresh fuel and add fuel stabilizer to the tank. Run the mower for a few minutes until the stabilizer has time to enter the carburetor. Shut her down and let her cool. Pull the spark plug and squirt a couple squirts of oil into the combustion chamber. Pull the hand crank a couple times with the spark plug still removed to ensure the oil coats the chamber walls, then reinstall the plug. Set the choke to the “on” position and store the machine.
Generator: You pretty much deal with the generator the way you dealt with the snow blower with a couple exceptions. After you have serviced the generator set and running it you should load the gen set up with as much electrical load that it is rated for. Leave it run for several minutes with the electrical loads applied. I like to start my generator every couple weeks in the winter to make sure all is well. Like many of you, I live in the country and often must make do for myself.
Chain saws: Get them running and sharpen or replace the chains. Cut a few pieces of good sized wood, then readjust the chain tension. I like to store my saws with the chokes applied, too.
Diesel equipment: Change all the fluids and make sure to put winter weight oil in the crankcase. Definitely replace the primary fuel filter as well. Put fuel stabilizer in your equipment’s fuel tank and leave the tank full. If you are storing any fuel, make sure you put stabilizer in that as well. Most diesel equipment has lots of grease fittings. Push grease through the fittings and don’t wipe off the excess; Mother Nature will do that for you. If your equipment comes with glow plugs, then operate the glow circuit system and make sure it cycles properly.
Yes, winter is soon upon us and I can’t wait for all those early morning drives through the snow and ice to get to work. What could be more fun than plowing the snow out of the drive in the wee hours of the morning? I, too, will be servicing my equipment this weekend in preparation for the upcoming winter — if I can find my tractor keys!
Nick Shultz is an instructor of Automotive Technologies at Owens Community College. He is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau who specializes in cases involving the Ohio and Michigan Lemon laws. He is a certified master automotive technician by ASE, General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Shultz, a Toledo native, will take questions from readers at email@example.com.