Drive Guys: Don?t stall on cold weather car prep

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Ed Kriston,Jeffrey Boone
Now’s the time to prepare for the cold weather that sends many cars right to the repair shop.

The best thing you can do for your car is to use fresh, lower-viscosity oil and let the engine warm up, said Drive Guys Ed Kriston and Jeffrey Boone, automotive repair specialists based in the Towson office of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

These Drive Guys tips are great reminders on how to keep your car running smoothly throughout the fall and winter:

Use low-viscosity oil and ensure it’s fresh. The thinner oil will still be quite thick when it is cold, but it will flow and lubricate better than thicker, summer-weight oil. The lower-viscosity oil will still protect the engine at operating temperature; it will also be easier on your battery and starter because the turning resistance of the engine will be reduced. Follow the viscosity recommendations in your vehicle’s owner’s manual for anticipated ambient temperatures.


Allow the car to warm up before you drive. That thins the oil enough for proper lubrication. It also reduces wear on the pistons and piston rings. When engines are operated immediately in very cold weather, the wear on the pistons and rings is severe and will shorten the engine’s life. Allow the engine to run long enough to allow some movement of the temperature gauge.

Understand what gasoline to use. There are only two types of gas at each station: regular and super. Any mid-octane gasoline is a mixture of the two. The rating given on gasoline — such as 93 or 91 — tells how easily the gas will ignite. Higher grades are normally for “performance” vehicles such as finely tuned sports and import cars. Running a car on premium or super when the engine is built for regular can damage the engine.
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