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Keeping your car in good condition during below freezing temperatures

Published On: Jan 07 2014 11:19:20 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 07 2014 12:33:00 PM EST

Mechanics urge drivers to heat their car up in extremely cold temperatures.


Single digit temperatures are not only dangerous to you and your home but also your vehicle.

If you must drive in below freezing temperatures, start your car and let it warm up before you get on the road.

Mechanics at Blue Ridge Truck & Auto in Roanoke say if you have an older car, that's mid 90's or older, let the car warm up for 20 to 30 minutes; for a newer car, at least 15 minutes. "Even if your antifreeze is rated to 30 below, if it's 2 degrees outside and you jump in your car and take off, with the wind chill going against the radiator, your antifreeze could still freeze," explained service manager Alan Favera.

The battery in your car has a life span of 3 to 5 years. If the battery is due for a change, do it before freezing temperatures arrive.

Mechanics also warn to check your belts and hoses. "Your belts and hoses are made of rubber. Anytime you’re dealing with extreme cold temperatures, rubber gets hard, cracks, and dry rots. This can cause the belts and hoses to bust, split open or just tear in half," says Favera.

Many drivers use the parking brake as habit, no matter where they're parked. But use caution if it's extremely cold outside. A water puddle or rain can cause the parking brake to freeze and the only way to thaw it out is waiting till temperatures increase.

When it comes to your tires, whether it's hot or cold, Favera says to check the pressure. “The air pressure in your tire increases or decreases one pound per every ten degrees." Making sure your tire pressure is accurate could save you from a blowout and bad gas mileage.

AAA says anytime there's a cold snap, the need for roadside assistance always goes up.

The main cause for emergency road-side assistance during below freezing temperatures is due to a dead battery.