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How To Prep Your Car For Bitter Cold Temperatures

Originally published Dec. 29, 2021

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) -- At Bobby and Steve's Auto World in Eden Prairie, there's surge in demand for car check-ups ahead of a bitter cold temperatures in the forecast for Wednesday and Saturday.

Gary DeRusha, operations leader at the auto shop, said his team handled 65 vehicles on Tuesday alone, when an average day sees about 45-50 customers.

"With this cold snap coming in, it is very, very busy," DeRusha said. "A lot of it is air pressure checks, checking the oil, things of that nature but right now a lot of shops are backed up because of the cold weather."

You can check your oil or tire pressure on your own to save yourself time and money. But if you need an expert, be patient: Auto repair shops are also dealing with labor shortages and supply chain woes.

DeRusha said it's been difficult finding more workers and the shop reduced its hours as result.

But above all, the biggest problem is getting adequate supply of parts. He asked that customers be patient; repairs might take a little longer than before. Consumer costs have also increased.

For example, tires cost 35% more than they did in July, DeRusha said.

"I've been waiting on a part for three months and it finally arrived yesterday. There's a lot of parts that we can't get—national backorders through the dealers, they can't get them," he said. "We just have to be patient until this all blows over."

Meredith Mitts with AAA Minnesota-Iowa said every year the group routinely sees flat tires and dead batteries when there's freezing cold weathers. Checking tire pressure and the battery beforehand can save you a headache.

Turning the car on and waiting for it to warm up before driving it can be helpful because "cranking it and going" can be hard on vehicles when temperatures are sub-zero or in the single digits.

"Leaving your car for multiple days is probably the worst thing you can do, even if it's the garage," Mitts noted.

Things to check before hitting the road in winter months:

-- Battery
-- Tire pressure: As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures, typically by one PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
-- Drive Belts: Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying.
-- Washer fluids
-- Brakes
-- Lights
-- Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluids
-- Wiper blades

It is also good to have an emergency kit in your car with these items:

-- Mobile phone and car charger
-- Drinking water
-- First-aid kit
-- Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
-- Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
-- Snow shovel
-- Blankets --Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
-- Flashlight with extra batteries
-- Window washer solvent
-- Ice scraper with brush
-- Cloth or roll of paper towels
-- Jumper cables
-- Warning devices (flares or triangles)
-- Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

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