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Local car service expert offers tips to keep cars running during extreme cold

Local car service expert offers tips to keep cars running during extreme cold

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Tuesday night, wind chills could dip to more than 50 degrees below zero, which can cause problems for a lot of things, especially cars. 

Local car service experts have some tips for you to keep in mind for the rest of the week.

For starters, it's a good idea to check the oil before trying to start a car. When taking a vehicle in for an oil change, have the mechanic check the battery to make sure it can handle subzero temperatures. 

"If your battery has low cold cranking amperage, which is the amount of power needed at zero degrees Fahrenheit to turn the engine over, it will do exactly that," said Weston Silha, service advisor at Brenengen Chevrolet Cadillac. "It will fail to turn the engine over and fail to start the vehicle." 

It's also good to keep the gas tank more than half full. That will help keep moisture from forming in the gaslines and keep them from freezing. 

Another good tip is to let the car run briefly before taking off, to give the engine a chance to warm up. 

"Ten or 15 minutes, typically," Silha said. "In temperatures like this, it could be up to 20 minutes. You want to get all of your fluids up to where you would normally see them on your gauges at normal running operating temperature." 

Make sure to check tire pressure in every tire. 

"For every 10 degrees of temperature lost, you could lose 1-2 pounds per square inch in your tire. When it's minus 20 degrees, we have people who are 5-10 psi below what is required for that tire specifically," Silha said. 

Failure to keep tires at the correct psi can cause problems with how a car handles on the road. 

"You are going to lose traction," Silha said. "It is going to inversely wear the tire because they are not inflated to the proper pressure. Obviously, you are going to have the tire pressure light come on and you can affect some fuel mileage as well."

There are also some things to have in the car that come in handy if there are problems. 

"If you have the capability to have a jump pack, that's always really good," Silha said. "Jumper cables are a good backup." 

If a car doesn't want to start, it's best to not force it. Call someone with the knowledge to help and avoid causing further damage to the vehicle. 

That is why it is good to have an emergency kit inside the vehicle, containing warm cloths, snacks, water and needed medication, to stay prepared in these dangerous conditions. 

For more information, visit carcare.org.

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