Tips to prevent expensive car repairs amid bitter cold temperatures and freezing rain

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Bitter cold temperatures and freezing rain can take a toll on your car, but there are several ways to prevent expensive repairs brought on by tough winter weather conditions.

It starts with trying to get into your car. Continuing to pull on a car door that is frozen shut could lead to some unexpected damage.

“You could break the handle if it doesn’t move,”Art Simmoneau with US Automotive in Ozark said. “[It could] break the handle or pull something off inside the door or break a lock inside internally.”

Mechanics say you can also use lubricants, including home cooking sprays like Pam, in order to help loosen doors and handles. Simmoneau said there are specific tools to help with locks that are stuck, like lock keys and sprays.

The cold weather can also point out problems when you try to start your car or truck.

“If they don’t start right off like they normally do, there’s definitely a problem,” Simmoneau said. “Continually cranking them is not going to help you. You run the battery down, you’re stuck at that point.”

Simmoneau also recommends drivers do not hold down window switches if a window is frozen or stuck.

“Holding force on a switch if it’s not coming down is not going to help you,” he said. “You’re better off letting them defrost on their own or not messing with them at all. Try to defrost them with the defroster basically.”

Holding the buttons down can sometimes lead to bigger issues.

“Can you damage something by continuing to hold the switch on? Yes you can,” Simmoneau said. “The motor itself, the gear drive inside the motor itself, overload the switch, cause a short. Any number of things.”

When it comes to frozen windshields, Simmoneau said hot water is not a solution.

“You don’t want to do that,” he said. “Never pour hot water on it. It’s a bad idea. Hot and cold together doesn’t work well.”

In fact, it can sometimes lead to cracks. Drivers should also be careful with their scrapers as well.

“Chisel it out and then you can turn it over and get underneath it to get off the rest off your windshield,” Westlake Ace Hardware Assistant Manager Bob Bowman said. “And of course you’ve got your snow brush too. That’s what that’s for, to help rough up the ice to get it off the glass.”

He said you should not hit a scraper into the windshield when trying to remove ice.

“If you happen to have a little hair ding in your glass that you didn’t know about, the more you pound on it the more that runner will spread out,” Bowman said.

He said he even recommends placing something like a shopping bag over your mirrors, which can help prevent ice from forming on them. Bowman said that can help spare the hassle of having to scrape frozen mirrors.

He also said salt may help remove ice on the ground, but it should stay off of cars.

“Never, never, ever, ever put that salt on your car unless you want to paint your car,” he said.

And when it comes to staying safe on the roads, Bowman said truck drivers and SUV drivers can use sandbags to help keep them safe during slick conditions. Drivers can place them near the back tires and over the rear axle, which adds some additional weight. That weight helps provide extra traction in slick conditions.

He said that can help rear-wheel-drive vehicles but it is not recommended for front-wheel-drive vehicles.

“It’s a good idea to have some mainly in case you do get stuck,” Bowman said. “You can scatter some of that sand out to get out of a tight spot like a in a parking place where you can’t go frontwards or backwards. It keeps the weight more direct over the wheels to help get your traction.”

Bowman and Simmoneau both said they also recommend drivers always have blankets, hats and gloves when they are out on the road in case they get stuck.

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