Ask Gary: Does a harsh winter mean more maintenance?
Quite a few customers have asked me if all the snow and cold weather we had this winter increased the maintenance needs for their cars.
The answer is no – and yes.
For the most part, you don’t need to change your regular maintenance schedule because it’s cold or snowing. Today’s vehicles are designed better, made from better materials and put together better than ever before. So your brakes won’t wear out faster at low temperatures and neither will your tires.
The two areas of regular maintenance that you should increase in the winter if you can are changing the oil and washing the exterior. “But my manual says I only need to change the oil every 7,500 miles and I’m not due for another 2,000!” I heard a similar statement from a customer in our service department just the other day when we suggested an oil change to prepare the car for spring and summer driving. But as our technician pointed out, every manufacturer bases their oil-change schedules on “ideal” service conditions – meaning the weather in Hawaii, not Haverhill.
The truth is our winters are what every manufacturer considers a “severe” service condition – like towing a heavy load or driving on dusty roads — which can cut the mileage between oil changes in half. Today’s oils are better than they were 10 or 20 years ago, but it still takes longer for your car to warm up in the winter and burn off any condensation in the engine. Repeated over and over from November to March, this is one of the things that shortens the effective life of your oil, especially if you take lots of short trips. It’s also why adding an extra oil change at the end of the winter can be a wise investment in the long-term value and reliability of your vehicle.
The other area of maintenance I’d recommend you not neglect in the winter is washing your car. Again, today’s vehicles are protected against corrosion better than ever, but rinsing off the salt and sand a few times over the winter will help preserve the paint – and your investment.
Finally, with April showers around the corner, you should also replace your windshield wipers. Wipers are an inexpensive but important part of safe driving, especially after the winter we just had in New England, as all the salt and sand on the roads this time of year wears out your wipers more quickly. At Jaffarian, we feel very strongly about maintaining excellent wipers on our customers’ vehicles, so we DO NOT charge for the technicians’ labor to install new blades. You pay only for the wipers only and we install them for FREE.
It does not cost a lot of money to give your vehicle a little TLC after our long hard winters, and help keep you and your family safe on the road.