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Cold-weather maintenance can save thousands

When temperatures start dropping, the number of things that can go wrong with an engine goes up.

“You can have expensive repairs,” said Jeremy Armstrong, assistant manager for Grismer Tire in Springfield. “Especially with the temperature and the cold, things start wearing out and breaking a lot quicker.”

With the temperature dipping below freezing this week, old coolant and anti-freeze can stop working. It’s important to get fluids checked by a mechanic to ensure the boiling and freezing points are at acceptable levels. Otherwise, the coolant can freeze, Armstrong said, causing an engine to overheat.

“You could crack the (engine) block or damage the radiator hoses and then you also get the towing bill along with the repairs,” he said. “So getting it checked can save you a lot of money.”

Cold weather also reduces a car battery’s ability to hold a charge, resulting in older batteries not properly working and a car not starting. Checking the battery or getting it replaced, Armstrong said, can cost $60 to $100, but it will prevent ending up stranded in the cold.

Tire pressure and tread depth are also important. A tire that isn’t properly inflated effects mileage, and worn tires provide less traction on the snow and ice. Those items can be checked using gauges that can be purchased at any auto parts store. A mechanic can also make sure the tires are roadworthy, he said.

Simple maintenance can cost hundreds, depending on how much work needs to be done. However, Armstrong said it can save thousands in repairs and headaches.

“If you do your normal maintenance, you’ll be in good shape for the winter,” Armstrong said.

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