The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Car care important in cold weather

Aaron Vehling

Editor’s Note — This is the first of a two-part series about how students can be affected by the cold winter weather.

Just minutes before a friend’s father came home from a late night work shift at 5 a.m., sophomore Drew Niese’s van wouldn’t start.

Niese and a few friends were at the house partying and after a long night at work, his friend’s father would not enjoy the sight of a bunch of people in his house.

Niese’s friends tried to jump-start his van multiple times until it finally started, 10 minutes before the father got home from work.

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Car trouble can be a minor hassle or a major inconvenience, and winter weather is responsible for some problems that could leave you stranded in the cold.

“I had to jump my van four times over break,” Niese said. “That was four times too many.”

Niese purchased a new battery over break, but he still had problems with his 1986 Chevy Astro van.

His van’s heating system did not work well and he noticed that his gas mileage dropped in cold weather.

“My biggest problem was driving in sheer cold weather,” he said.

The low temperatures and conditions of Wisconsin winters provide challenges to car owners, said Scott Schilling, owner of Fast Lane Auto, 2111 Third St.

He said the three most common problems are dead batteries, frozen gas lines and frozen radiators.

Dead batteries are the most apparent, Schilling said. Since vehicles have to work harder to start in winter, due partially to the thickening of oil in cold temperatures, batteries need to produce more power to get the engine to turn over.

“A car might start all summer, but when it gets colder, it’s harder to turn over,” Schilling said.

He estimated that the average battery should cost around $55 to $75. After getting a vehicle to a garage, installation will cost around $20 and takes about 15 minutes.

To prevent the duress of getting stranded with a weak battery, Schilling said people should get their battery checked at a service station before it gets too cold.

Gas line freeze is another winter weather problem, but Schilling said it is easy to prevent.

A car with less than half a tank of gas has moisture in the tank from condensation on the cold metal that holds the gasoline. This moisture freezes and prevents the vehicle from starting.

To remedy a frozen gas line, Schilling said people should put a bottle of Heet, a gasoline additive, in their tank and see if it unclogs the gas line. Otherwise, a person must get it to a garage where the car can warm up.

Aside from the cost of towing to a garage, Schilling said that it costs about $50, plus a can of Heet, at an auto service center to unclog a frozen gas line.

All of the problems with a vehicle in winter are preventable in part with a tune-up and regular maintenance, he said.

With his van, Niese has tried a few tricks like revving his engine before he turns it off and running the engine while the van was parked to warm it up.

He even tried saying nice things to it and praying that it would start.

“I’m gonna treat you real good,” he said. “If you work for me.”

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Car care important in cold weather