While we did not have as cold a winter this year in Texas as the past three years, the fact remains that there were a few weeks where temperatures dropped to below freezing. When that happens, the colder weather takes its toll on our vehicles.

It seems that we in the Fernandez family have had more battery issues this past winter than we have ever had. What is most curious is that all the battery issues my wife and kids have had were pretty much the same thing.

Take into consideration that when temperatures drop to below freezing, the water in the battery freezes as well. When that happens it takes those "cold cranking amps" to kick in and turn that engine over, putting a strain on the battery. This is what I told everyone who called me asking, "Daddy, I think I need a new alternator or something is wrong with the engine in my truck. Can you help me, Daddy?"

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Remember, the battery has water in it and it'll melt and thaw out once the engine compartment warms up. One daughter took it upon herself to diagnose her vehicle's issues, and spent nearly a thousand dollars getting a new battery and new alternator/generator installed. The very next week when the temp dropped again, the same problem occurred. She thought it was a bad install job done on her vehicle.

Ensure your vehicle will get you through the scorching Texas summer heat when it's 107 degrees for days on end. Here are some easy-to-follow steps from our friends at AAA to ensure your ride stays rideable. Many of these you can do yourself.

1. Check Tires and Tire Pressure:

  • Inspect all four tires, including the spare tire. Look for cuts, gouges, or sidewall bulges.
  • Use the “quarter test”: Insert a quarter upside down into the tire grooves. If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, it’s time for new tires.
  • Verify tire pressure when the car is idle and tires are cool. Inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure (check your owner’s manual or the driver’s side door jamb sticker).

2. Listen to and Feel the Brakes:

  • If you hear grinding sounds or feel vibrations while applying the brakes, visit an auto repair shop for a brake inspection.
  • Professionals will check for fluid leaks and assess the condition of pads, rotors, shoes, and drums.

3. Secure and Test the Battery:

  • Examine the battery for clean and tight cable connections. Ensure the hold-down hardware is secure.
  • Have a service professional perform a battery check to determine its remaining capacity.

4. Top Off Engine Oil and Other Fluids:

  • Check engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid levels.
  • Use products that meet the specifications listed in your owner’s manual when adding fluids.

5. Inspect Belts and Hoses:

  • Ensure your car’s battery connection is tight and free of corrosion.
  • Check that belts are tight and there are no fluid leaks beneath the vehicle.
  • Replace filters as needed.
    Source: AAA.com

Just keep in mind that keeping your vehicle well-maintained is a safety feature for your family and also makes for a more pleasurable road trip. Have fun this spring and summer, and remember to drive safe.

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