AUTO: Get Ready for Winter Weather!

Shannon, Chris, and Russ answer all your car questions every Saturday morning from 10AM until Noon on WTYM AM 1380 and FM 103.7

Dear Motor Medics,
I just moved from Florida with my 2004 Chevy Trailblazer which has never seen temps below 40 degrees. I lived here in the 80s and remember how hard it was to keep my car going. What should I do to help my vehicle?
Morgan in Duluth Minnesota

Dear Morgan,
What you need depends on how well you have taken care of your vehicle. If you have been following the recommended maintenance schedule you will be closer to ready. Consult with a local mechanic for a complete list but here are a few things that can catch you off guard. A battery that has been worn down by summer heat may fail when very cold. A capacitance test will reveal its true condition. Poor heating or engine freeze-up caused by lack of regular cooling system care. Flush the system and the heater core on a scheduled basis to keep it in good shape. Don’t forget to inspect belts and hoses; the cold is very hard on them. Tires will drop pressure when cold as well so adjust as needed. Follow the manufacturers recommended oil viscosity ratings when changing your oil. Don’t use thinner oil unless it is allowed by the manufacturer or you could cause engine damage. For easier starting fully synthetic oil can help on very cold days. There are other items as well so get to your mechanic before it gets too cold and don’t forget a good winter survival kit.
Take care, the Motor Medics

Dear Motor Medics,
My vehicles heater has been losing its ability to heat gradually over the past few years and it has reached the point of almost no heat and my wife says it’s time to get it fixed or else. She’s steamed and I’m freezing. I had it flushed a couple times and it seemed to work better for a short time but when I had it done this year it made no difference. The vehicle is a 2001 Dodge Caravan. Can you help me cool down my wife and heat up the van?
Terry in Sioux Falls South Dakota

Dear Terry,
Your problem is most common when the cooling system has not been flushed according to scheduled service times, but if it has been, they may have not serviced the core. When we flush a cooling system, we flush everything, not just the radiator. We remove the hoses to the core and rinse them with clean water and then connect our machine and completely flush the system. We also use a cleaner in the system before we flush it. These simple things can mean the difference between a heater core that goes the distance or one that fails prematurely. If you core has become so clogged that it can’t be flushed enough to give proper heat, then it will need to be replaced. Replacement can be very expensive so if it is determined that a new core is needed check around for prices.
Take care, the Motor Medics