It’s getting colder, prepare your vehicle

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Here in South Mississippi we enjoy mild winters.

While the snow storm we saw a couple weeks back is a relatively rare occurrence, there are a couple of months when the temperatures drop enough to affect the performance and reliability of our vehicles.

For the most part, the electrical system in modern vehicles is reliable. It primarily consists of the alternator, battery and some cables. What you will want to ensure is operating at peak performance is the alternator and battery.

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When it gets cold, the starting amps in your battery decline, that is why when it’s really cold your vehicle may sound like it’s having a bit more trouble starting.

If the battery is not working at its best, it will become a problem when it gets cold. Being stranded is never fun, but being stranded in cold weather is worse.

To ensure you don’t get stuck out in the cold, have your battery tested by a mechanic or automotive parts store employee.

Most automotive parts stores offer free battery and alternator testing.

Rubber components can become more brittle when it’s cold, especially if they are already worn.

To check belts and hoses, look for cracks in the rubber. Cracked belts and hoses should be replaced promptly. While hoses can be squeezed to look for cracks, belts will need to be inspected at a point along the serpentine path where the underside of the belt is visible.

The underside of the belt can be identified by the series of ridges that keep the belt on the pulleys.

Last but not least, check your coolant level. If there is more water in the system than there should be, that fluid could freeze, leading to a leak in your system because water expands when it freezes, causing aging hoses and other components to fail.

That leak could lead to your vehicle overheating, resulting in costly repairs.

Lastly, be sure to check tire pressure, brakes, all fluids and ensure your emergency roadside kit is stocked.