Winter Car Care Tips

January 6, 2013 6:54:46 AM PST
Even though there's not a lot of snow on the ground in our area right now, winter is definitely here with cold temperatures, and that means drivers need to take special care of their cars.

There are a lot of sayings - warm up your car, keep your tank full and more - but is all that true?

Harold Santamaria, Instructor, Undercar Specialist and Part Specialist Automotive Technology Program at City Colleges of Chicago ( came into our ABC7 studio with tips for winter car care.

Harold's Tips:

1. Is it really important to "warm up" your car before driving?
- Let the car warm up for a few minutes if temps outside are 32 degrees or below (freezing)
- Lengthen the number of minutes you let the car warm up as the temperature plunges lower
- Caution: too long of a warm-up wastes fuel and can be harmful to the environment

2. How low should you let the tank go before fueling up?
- Never let the tank go below one-quarter full
- Gasoline acts as a coolant -- it helps keep the fuel pump cool
- Moisture builds up inside of an empty tank, and you run the risk of freezing the fuel line

3. Why a clean air filter is key to getting the best gas mileage:
- Helps the car "breathe" easier, which means the car will use less gas
- Air filters should be changed every year or every 12,000 miles
- If you live or work in a dusty area, you may need to change the filter more often

4. The at-home tire tread check:
- Use a quarter to check tire treads
- If you can see George Washington's head, it's time to replace the tires

5. Items in a winter safety-kit for your car:
- Flash light
- Jumper cables
- Work gloves
- Road flair
- Reflective "caution" triangle for the road
- Bottled water/protein bar(s)
- Blanket
- Basic first aid kit
- Can of instant tire repair

6. Wiper blades
- Inspect your wiper blades every 6 months and replace them in the fall
- Clean your windshield every time you fill up your gas tank
- With a damp paper towel with water or Windex, wipe the rubber squeegee part of the blade