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Cold temperatures cause car problems

Casey Kenny | Monday, January 19, 2009

As the temperature in South Bend continues to rival that of the artic tundra, Notre Dame students know the necessity of wearing layers of protective cold weather gear to go outside.

What they may not know, however, is that, while they are bundling up, they should also be taking protective measures to make sure their car is in working order.

“Students should check their car’s battery and charging system regularly and keep their gas tank filled to reduce moisture in the fuel system and prevent freezing,” said David Chapman, assistant director of Notre Dame/Security Police.

The freezing temperatures can cause a car battery to freeze, leaving the car immobile, he said.

To avoid this deep freeze and dead battery, “students should start and run their cars every couple of days during cold weather and not let their cars sit for extended periods of time,” Chapman said.

Should a student find that their car battery is dead, though, NDSP will assist them with a jump start, he said.

The National Safety Council (NSC) Web site offers additional suggestions for cold weather preparation including that car owners “start with a checkup that includes the ignition, brakes, distributor, wiring, hoses, filters, fan belts, spark plugs, antifreeze level and freeze line.”

Many drivers often overlook the importance of the cooling system but, without proper protection, the coolant can freeze and damage an engine in low temperatures.

Suggestions from the NSC also include the advice that drivers “have an ice scraper, snow brush, shovel and bag of salt or cat litter in the car,” that they “inspect the car’s wiper blades, windshield fluid level, tire tread and pressure,” and “check that the heater, defroster and rear defogger are all working properly.”

Drivers should also clear their cars of snow before driving to avoid a loss of visibility if it blows back onto the windshield or onto other cars. Snow should also be removed from the headlights and break lights to ensure visibility to other motorists.