Vehicle tips in negative temperatures

Mechanic cold temperature preparation | Babcock Auto Care

Rochester, Byron, and surrounding school districts are already calling off school with the freezing -40 to -60 degree temperatures over the next couple of days. We are grateful our schools are giving us this forewarning as keeping warm and safe are important. But many of us still have to brave the negative temperatures to come - and so do our vehicles!

Today, KTTC and FOX 47 news came by to get some tips from our mechanics to help you know what to consider with your vehicle when preparing for what's ahead. Here is what they had to say: 

While keeping your body insulated from the cold, experts say drivers should make sure their vehicles are ready for the cold, too.

One of the questions many drivers will be asking themselves over the next few days is ‘Will my car start with temperatures this cold?’

The answer is yes for many, but there are a few steps you can take to avoid most unexpected problems.

First, have your battery tested.

“Making sure your batteries are fully charged or they’ve been maintained,” said Derek Severson, Babcock Auto Care's Shop Foreman. “Or if they’re at the end of the end of the battery life expectancy, maybe get it checked and tested.”

Then make sure your fluids are rated for extremely cold weather and topped off.


Fluid check | Babcock Auto Care

“In this area we want to have anti-freeze that’s tested down to about -40°,” said Severson.

Babcock Auto Care also recommends checking your tire pressure, oil levels, and ensure lights are working properly.

“Another thing people don’t always think about is their windshield washer fluid,” said Severson. “Making sure you have an actual winter windshield blend in there to handle these extreme temperatures.”

While regular gasoline already has additives in it to prevent freezing, you can use other off-the-shelf products to keep moisture out of the fuel system.

“Diesel cars and trucks, you definitely want to keep additive in it to keep it from what they call gelling, where the diesel fuel actually turns to a gel so it won’t start any longer,” said Severson.

On top of all that, Severson also suggests starting your car once or twice during the work day to ensure you’ll be able to make it home. Especially when the mercury drops to -20° or worse like we’re expecting this week.

“It doesn’t affect it to go out during your lunch hour and start the vehicle, let it run for a little while.,” said Severson. “Just to help keep the fluids moving in it.”

Babcock Auto Care will check tire pressure, battery charge, and fluid levels free of charge for anyone who wants to make sure their vehicle is ready for the cold.

Given the snowfall we received Sunday night, drivers should also have a winter survival kit containing extra blankets, warm clothes, a shovel, and a few snacks in case you run into problems on the road.


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