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Feb. 29, 2024

Winter Car Repairs: Tips For Keeping Your Vehicle in Top Shape

The cold weather and harsh winter conditions in Nova Scotia can make driving a challenge. For vehicle owners, especially those with pre-owned cars, this marks the beginning of a season that can challenge even the most reliable vehicles. Ensuring your vehicle is prepared to weather the storms isn't just a matter of convenience -- it's about safety and longevity on the road.

Race Auto Group understands the significance of winter car repairs in Nova Scotia. In this comprehensive guide, we will dive into the specifics of winter car repair and give you some car maintenance tips, equipping you with invaluable information that can keep you driving confidently and safely through the season.

1. Prepare for Harsh Weather Conditions

The first step in winterizing your vehicle is to prepare for the unforgiving climate. From proper winter tires to the right wiper blades, a few adjustments are

all it takes to completely change your winter driving experience.

Tire Check: Traction is Key

It's time to give your tires the spotlight. Worn-out treads are a recipe for disaster on slippery roads. Swap out your all-seasons for a set of snow-rated tires with better tread depth or studded snow tires for maximum snow traction. It’s a worthwhile investment when it comes to safety.

It's also important to routinely monitor the pressure in your tires, as cold weather can decrease tire pressure and make your vehicle less stable on the road.

The Importance of Antifreeze

Antifreeze or coolant is your primary guard against the cold weather. Ensure the levels are adequate to prevent the engine from freezing. Check for leaks in your cooling system, as antifreeze spills on the road can be hazardous to pets and wildlife.

See Clearly with Winter Wiper Blades

Visibility is often compromised in winter conditions. Toss those regular wipers and install winter blades for a clearer view. These wipers are designed to keep snow and ice from building up and impeding your sightline.

2. Stay Ahead: Keep Your Car Ready All Winter Long

The cold can be particularly hard on certain car components. Prioritize the critical elements that are prone to causing issues during the winter months.

Battery Health Check

The battery is the heart of the electrical system and it works doubly hard in the winter season. If your battery is over three years old, have it tested for strength. Consider replacing it if it's showing signs of weakness to keep you from experiencing frustrating dead battery scenarios.

Heating System: It's Not Just About Comfort

While staying warm is essential, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system also plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of your vehicle. Regularly run the heater to prevent mechanical issues due to inactivity.

Ice and Snow Removal

Your entire car must be free of ice and snow. Always clear your windshield, side mirrors, lights, and the car's roof completely before hitting the road, even on a cold morning when you've got to get to work. Partial clearing can impair vision for you and other drivers and lead to accidents.

3. Maintain Fluids and Lubrication

Effective liquid care is an all-year-round requirement, but the colder temperatures can make this essential.

Engine Oil Is the Lifeblood of Your Vehicle

Check your engine oil level and top it off if needed. Cold temperatures can make oil thicker, which increases the strain on the engine. Check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended viscosity to keep your engine working properly.

No More Grimy Glass

Your washer fluid is just as important as the oil in your engine; replenish your windshield wiper fluid with a winter-grade fluid to prevent freezing and reduced visibility.

Keep Your Brakes Sharp

Your brakes are a critical component of safety. Ensuring that your brake fluid is at the correct level is just one part of a good winter car maintenance routine. Regularly inspect the brake pads and rotors, as they can also wear out with heavy winter usage.

4. Check Lighting and Visibility

Being seen is as critical as seeing during the dark months of a Nova Scotia winter.

Shine a Light on Your Headlights

Verify that your headlights are clean and properly adjusted. Cloudy lenses can reduce light output, while misalignment can affect visibility.

Working Bulbs in All of Your Lights

Inspect all bulbs for signs of wear and tear. Burnt-out bulbs can result in traffic violations and accidents, especially if they're brake or headlight bulbs.

Don't Let the Ice Cover Your Signals

Keeping your lights clean is also crucial, including your turn signals. Dirt and snow can reduce their effectiveness, leading to confusion for other drivers and a potential hazard on the road.

5. Pay Attention to the Electrical System

A pristine electrical system means a smoother drive, especially in the winter. These winter car maintenance tips might not be possible for you to do at home, so make an appointment and have the team at Race Auto Group take care of your vehicle.

Car Battery Connections

Even a minor corrosion on your battery terminals can affect your car's ability to start. Clean the terminals with a wire brush to ensure a good connection.

Fuse Watch

Faulty fuses can lead to multiple issues in your vehicle. Use your vehicle's manual to locate and replace them if any electrical component is not working.

The Wired Way

Examine all wiring for signs of damage or connectors for looseness. Wiring issues are an inconvenience at best and a safety hazard at worst.

6. Visit a Professional for Winter Car Repairs

Sometimes, the problems we come across can be beyond our DIY expertise. Scheduling regular visits to a professional can save you a lot of time and keep your peace of mind.

Keep Up with Inspections

Routine check-ups can catch problems before they escalate and warrant repairs, so stick to your vehicle's service schedule. This is the best preventative maintenance you can provide.

Trained Professionals at Your Service

The team at Race Auto Group has the experience, tools, and expertise to keep your car in top shape all winter long. Our specialists are passionate about their work and your safety.

Multiple Locations

With 3 locations across Nova Scotia, vehicle maintenance is always within reach at Race Auto Group. Don’t wait until it's too late; drop by and let our experts handle your winter vehicle repairs and maintenance.

Your Winter Driving Partner in Nova Scotia

By following these 6 comprehensive tips, you can ensure that your pre-owned vehicle doesn’t just survive the cold, but thrives through it. Let Race Auto Group be your partner this season to prepare, prevent, and empower yourself. Winter car repairs and maintenance are not just good practice; they're a necessity for everyone on the road this season.

Contact Race Auto Group today and schedule an appointment for your winter car repairs or maintenance!

Frequently Asked Questions

Refer to the section below for the answers to some of the most common questions we receive about winter car repairs and maintenance.

What should I change in my car before winter?

Preparing your car for winter involves switching to winter tires, testing and replacing the battery if needed, installing winter wiper blades, ensuring the correct antifreeze-to-water ratio, and considering a lower viscosity oil for better performance in cold temperatures.

How do I prepare for a long winter drive?

Preparing for a long winter drive requires checking tire pressure, battery life and oil levels and keeping the gas tank half full. Pack an emergency kit, plan your route, check weather forecasts, and inform someone about your travel plans.

Can a car sit over winter?

While it is not advised, a car can sit over winter with proper preparation. Disconnect the battery, fill up the gas tank, consider using a fuel stabilizer, change the oil, and inflate the tires to the correct pressure to prevent potential damage.

Blog

Feb. 22, 2024

Top 5 Essential Winter Car Battery Maintenance Tips

For drivers in Nova Scotia dealing with icy winds and snow-covered roads, there's no ignoring the importance of healthy car batteries. As the temperature drops, the demand on your vehicle's battery increases, and the last thing you want is to be stranded in the cold because of a dead battery.

Understanding proper battery maintenance in cold weather, especially for owners of pre-owned vehicles, is not just about staying safe; it's about protecting your investment and guaranteeing a smooth driving experience.

Here are our top 5 winter car battery maintenance tips that every Nova Scotia winter driver should follow.

Tip 1: Keep Your Car Battery Charged All Winter

Your car's battery, in many ways, is the heart of your vehicle, especially in the winter. Low temperatures slow the chemical reactions that generate electricity, meaning that your engine requires more current from the battery to start.

Regular Checks and Charges

Regularly check the battery charge levels using a voltmeter. If it's consistently below 12.4 volts, consider using a battery maintainer to keep it charged. Smart chargers are excellent tools for keeping your battery topped up without overcharging.

Pay Attention to Battery Health

Remember, winter makes an already weak battery even weaker, so a smart investment in November could save a lot of headaches in February. After about 3-5 years of a battery's lifespan, a replacement might be your best option.

Tip 2: Keep Your Battery Terminals Clean

Corrosion on terminals can lead to poor connectivity and even battery drain. But keeping them clean is a simple DIY task that pays dividends.

Clean Your Terminals for a Healthy Battery

Create a mixture of baking soda and water, apply it to the battery terminals, and scrub with a wire brush. Remember to wear gloves and goggles and ensure the mixture doesn't infiltrate the battery.

Use Terminal Protectors

After they're clean, apply a terminal protector spray or petroleum jelly to keep them shining for longer.

Tip 3: Insulate Your Car Battery

Insulating your car battery is an important step in vehicle maintenance that could prevent it from losing its charge in frigid temperatures.

Battery Blankets

Battery blankets are like electric blankets for car batteries, keeping the temperature stable. They're easy to install and can extend your battery life significantly.

Installing Hood Insulation

Consider adding a thin layer of insulation to your hood, which helps to keep the engine bay warmer and reduces the strain on your battery.

Tip 4: Limit Battery Power Usage in Cold Weather

In winter, try to limit the use of high-draw electrical components when the engine's not running to conserve battery power.

Reduce Power Loads

Avoid extended idling and switch off accessories like seat warmers, cabin lights, and entertainment systems in cold temperatures when you don't need them to keep your car running smoothly.

Heated Visor Over Rear Defroster

If you can, use a heated visor for the front windscreen instead of the rear window defroster, which can be a significant draw on the battery.

Tip 5: Regularly Test Your Battery

When was the last time your battery was tested? If the answer isn’t "this winter," schedule a test as soon as possible.

DIY or Professional

While some auto parts stores offer battery tests and it's possible to check your battery's charge at home with a load tester, these methods may not always provide accurate readings, especially in colder weather.

For reliable results, turn to the experts at Race Auto Group. With our extensive knowledge and experience in vehicle repairs and maintenance, our team will ensure your battery is in peak condition and ready for whatever the Nova Scotia winter can throw at it!

Replace When In Doubt

Battery health is not something you want to gamble on. If your test indicates a weak battery, replace it with a new battery to avoid a winter emergency.

Put Our Winter Car Battery Tips into Action!

Winter car battery maintenance is the best way to care for one of your vehicle's most essential components when it is at its most vulnerable.

By keeping your batteries charged, clean, and insulated, and by limiting unnecessary power usage, you're actively ensuring a reliable driving experience in even the harshest winter conditions

For Nova Scotians driving out into the winter, these five tips will safeguard your battery and your safety. Contact the team at Race Auto Group today and drive away with peace of mind! Stay charged, stay safe, and embrace the season with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

As we wrap up this informative blog post, let's tackle some frequently asked questions about car battery maintenance during the winter months.

Is it bad to leave your battery in the cold?

Yes, cold temperatures can negatively impact your car battery. The colder it gets, the harder your battery has to work to start the car. If your battery is already weak, it may not be able to handle the extra strain, potentially leaving you stranded. It's advisable to have your battery tested by professionals like Race Auto Group before the winter season begins.

How do I stop my car battery from draining in the winter?

Preventing your car battery from draining in cold weather involves a combination of regular maintenance and strategic use. It's crucial to have your battery checked regularly by professionals, like those at Race Auto Group, who can ensure it's in optimal health and prepared for the weather.

If you have access to a garage or another warm place, make it a point to park your vehicle there, as it protects the battery from the cold. Additionally, try to limit short rides, which prevent your car’s battery from fully charging, thereby extending its life.

How can I improve my battery life in cold weather?

To optimize your battery life during the cold season, focus on diligent upkeep and use your vehicle mindfully. Keeping the terminals clean and corrosion-free is a must since corrosion can inhibit the battery from charging or even starting your car. If your vehicle isn't going to be in use for a while, consider using a battery maintainer or a trickle charger to keep it charged. Lastly, refrain from using your car's electronics when the engine is off to avoid unnecessarily draining the battery's power.

Blog

Jan. 31, 2024

All-Season Tires. Are They Suitable for Winter Driving?

When winter comes around, it’s time to think about the tires for your car. It is essential to select tires that provide traction on slippery surfaces. These include rain, snow, or ice that completely covers the road.

The type of tires your car requires depends on various factors. Some factors include the car model and your driving habits. All-season tires offer reasonable performance in various weather conditions, but are they suitable for winter driving?

Just keep reading to learn more!

Pros of All-Season Tires for Winter

All-season tires deliver rounded performance throughout the year. They offer traction and handling on wet roads and even under light winter conditions.

Learn more about their benefits below:

Versatility

These special tires can handle different weather conditions. In winter, these tires also provide traction on both dry and wet surfaces. This means you can use these tires even when there is snow and slush.

Convenient and Cost-Effective Option

You don’t need to switch tires during the summer season! This is because you have one set of all-season tires that work well in different weather conditions. These tires save time and reduce the winter maintenance costs of owning separate tires.

Traction in Mild Winter Conditions

All-season tires are reliable when it comes to winter. Their adaptability allows you to drive on light snow and slush without being in danger. The tread patterns can handle surfaces lightly dusted with snow. The tire materials also stay flexible in colder weather.

Cons of All-Season Tires for Winter

There are still some drawbacks you should consider when choosing your tires.

Check them out below:

Limited Traction in More Severe Winter Conditions

All-season tires are not actually suitable for heavy snowfall and ice. This is because they mainly work well for light snow and slush. The lack of specialized tread patterns can make gripping the road more challenging.

Unreliable Performance on the Ice

All-season tires don’t perform as well on the road. This means you need tires that have rubber compounds and treat designs, much like standard winter tires. All-season tires might not actually provide traction on ice, which can make it harder to control your vehicle.

Can Be Sensitive to Temperature

As these tires become rigid, their grip starts to slip away. This can happen in freezing temperatures if you don’t maintain them properly. This is called rubber compound hardening. Rubber compound hardening can actually impact the tire's traction on the road. Braking distances might also increase, making overall handling less predictable.

Things to Consider When Buying All-Season Tires for Winter Driving

When selecting tires, it's important to consider both your location and the type of vehicle you have. These two factors can help you make the right decision in the long term. Used cars may require more stable winter tires due to their longer driving history.

Here are the things to consider:

Local Climate

You must evaluate your local weather conditions. Evaluating your local area ensures you choose the right tires for your car.

This means you should choose all-season tires for mild winters with light snow. They can still perform well without disrupting your driving. On the other hand, you should choose a regular winter for heavy snowfall and ice.

Your Personal Driving Habits

You should also consider your driving habits. Your unique patterns of vehicle use can influence the performance expectations you should have from your tires during winter.

Your tires will face bigger challenges on snowy roads or mountainous terrains. This means you should use winter tires that have unique tread patterns and rubber compounds. These tires can provide optimal traction and control in the toughest winter environments.

You should also think about your usual driving environment. Urban areas often benefit from prompt snow removal and salting, which results in relatively well-maintained roads. All-season tires are suitable for these environments. However, people living in rural or less serviced areas may encounter less predictable road conditions. This means they require the enhanced winter capabilities of specialized tires.

Think About Your Safety

You should always think about safety out on the road. Remember that all-season tires have disadvantages in severe winter weather. Choosing the right tires can prevent accidents and make driving safer.

Contact Race Auto Group When Choosing All-Season Tires During the Winter

You should always consider your local weather and driving habits before choosing tires. This is because you want the tires to match your car’s needs. All-season tires may not actually be suitable for your car.

Do you need more expert guidance when it comes to choosing winter tires? Contact Race Auto Group today. We can provide valuable insights and assist you in making an informed decision to ensure a safer and more secure winter driving experience. You can also book an appointment to revamp your car.

Blog

Jan. 29, 2024

Buying a Used Car in Winter: Unveiling the Hidden Benefits

Did you know that winter is considered the best time to buy a used car?

With lower demand during the colder months, the prices often drop. This can help you save money. But don’t worry because purchasing a used car in winter comes with various other benefits. Continue reading to discover these benefits and make a smarter buying decision!

Lower Prices in the Winter Season

The demand for used cars usually goes down in the winter. This is favorable for those searching for a good deal.

Dealerships often experience decreased foot traffic as buyers may postpone their car-shopping plans. This can be down to holiday expenses or the weather. Sellers will adjust their pricing strategies due to the lower demand. In turn, these prices make used cars more affordable.

During the slower season, dealers may also provide additional discounts and promotions. You can then buy a used car within your budget.

Increased Negotiation Power

Fewer people are interested in buying used cars because of the cold weather. This is great for car buyers as they have more bargaining power.

Dealerships also face the challenge of selling cars during this slower period. This makes them more open to making a mutually beneficial deal. To make the most of this opportunity, it is essential to research the fair market value of the car you want. Since dealers are eager to clear their lots, you can also be assertive in negotiating the price.

For example, you should express your awareness of the seasonal demand. Then, make sure to politely but firmly propose a price that aligns with the current market. You can emphasize your serious intent to make a purchase but make it clear that you are exploring multiple options.

Plenty of Winter-Ready Features

It's essential to consider the value of the car’s winter features. Many vehicles have features that enhance safety and convenience.

All-wheel and four-wheel drive systems can improve traction on roads covered in ice. These features help drivers have a more secure and confident driving experience.

Some vehicles also have advanced stability control systems and anti-lock brakes. Having these features in your car will make you safer.

Inspecting for Winter Wear and Tear

Winter can help reveal the car’s overall condition. This is because the harsh weather, road salt, and cold temperatures can reveal any problems.

Here are some things you should inspect:

Battery Health

The winter season can put more pressure on your car. You should check the battery’s age when doing an inspection. A healthy battery will get your car started in the morning.

Tire Condition

Winter tires are very important for driving safely in winter. Check if you have winter or all-season tires and inspect the condition of the treads. Uneven treads may indicate the need for alignment or replacement.

Brake System

Harsh winter conditions often mean you will use your brakes more. So, check the brake pads and discs. This can help you find any signs of wear.

Fluid Levels and Antifreeze

Cold temperatures can thicken fluids within your car. When this happens, your engine won’t perform so well. You can avoid this by ensuring the fluid levels are between the “min” and “max” markings.

Heating and Defrosting Systems

A reliable heating and defrosting system is essential for winter driving visibility and comfort. Test the functionality of these systems during a test drive to ensure they operate efficiently.

Winter Test Drive Experience

Winter test drives are essential when considering a used car purchase. In addition to the regular test drive checklist, driving on snowy or icy roads gives important information about how well the vehicle performs.

Here are some practical tips for a winter test drive:

  • Choose a varied route: You should go down both city and suburban roads with different surfaces. These roads can help you determine whether the car is adaptable.
  • Test the brakes: Pay close attention to how the brakes respond on slippery surfaces. A car that stops efficiently in the winter is essential for your safety.
  • Evaluate the heater’s performance: You can ensure that the heating system works effectively. Cold weather can be unforgiving, and a reliable heater is essential for your comfort.
  • Listen for unusual noises: Snow can usually amplify sounds within the car. This means you should listen for any unusual noises that other conditions might hide.
  • Assess its visibility features: It’s worth testing the windshield wipers, defrosters, and mirrors to guarantee optimal visibility in the winter weather.

Winter Maintenance History

When searching for the ideal used car this winter, it is essential to examine the vehicle's winter maintenance record. Cold weather can be harsh on cars, as it exposes any signs of damage that may not show in warmer seasons.

Detailed records are essential for evaluating a car's winter maintenance history. This means you should look for invoices or service reports that outline winter-related inspections, fixes, or replacements. Consistent winter maintenance shows that the owner values the durability and dependability of their vehicle.

A car with a comprehensive winter maintenance history is also likely to have undergone proactive repairs. You should pay attention to records reflecting the replacement of items like worn-out wiper blades, malfunctioning heaters, or any components prone to cold weather degradation.

Contact Race Auto Group to Buy a Used Car During the Winter

Buying a used car in the winter is probably the best time. Consider waiting until winter to buy your first car. Reduced demand for used cars allows for better negotiation and lower prices.

You can also contact Race Auto Group for more guidance on buying used cars. We can help you find a model that suits your budget and long-term car requirements.