Car tips to stay out of the shop, on the roadby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Stalled vehicles have been a common sight on Minnesota roads this week with the winter blast.
Todd Duvick, owner of Amigo Service Center in Minneapolis, said the weather conditions have been tough on cars, and perhaps tougher than usual. Below are some answers to common questions about car trouble based on Duvick's conversation on MPR's Morning Edition.
Why are so many cars stalling?
Electrical systems are failing. The weather conditions have contributed to this. We had a mild winter last year, followed by a hot, dry summer. The blast of moisture with Sunday's snowstorm is what triggered the electrical failures, but the hot, dry weather weakened those systems. Usually the problems don't show up until the first cold day — when temperatures hit the teens.
Should I replace my car battery to prevent problems?
Most car batteries should last three to five years. Keep your car repair records. If it's been five years since you last replaced the battery, go ahead and replace it to prevent any problems. Newer cars, which are more electronically sophisticated, actually rely more heavily on the battery than older cars. Car computers need to see that battery voltage, and if it's not there they can stall right in the middle of traffic.
I think my car has suspension problems. What should I do?
One thing that can cause a shaking steering wheel and other vibrations is ice buildup in the car's wheels. That would be the first thing to check. If there is ice and snow buildup, one way to get rid of it is by going to the car wash and blasting it out with hot water. Other possible problems are tires being out of balance from being bounced around so much on the rough, icy roads. Usually mechanics won't see strut failures this soon after a storm, but a few more months of wear and tear on rough roads could cause some vehicles to need new struts.
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