By ALAN REED and EMILY WEAVER
News Staff Reporters
MOUNT VERNON — While the frigid temperatures and windy days can make it difficult for many people to function outside, the same can be said for automobiles. The extreme cold can have adverse effects on your car as well. If you do not have a garage and have to keep your car outside, a few steps of tender loving care should be followed in order to keep your vehicle running smoothly.
The most important thing you can do for your car is to conduct a routine maintenance check every three months. “If you take care of it, it will live longer and will save you money in the long run,” said John Hatfield, owner of Hatfield Auto Service.
Hatfield suggests checking all fluids including transmission, brakes and antifreeze to see that they are kept at a full level. Keeping enough antifreeze in your car is of paramount importance when temperatures dip extremely low.
Keeping your battery charged is another major concern as is keeping oil fresh. Old oil tends to get thick, making your car run harder, said Hatfield. When temperatures dip below 0 degrees, as is expected tonight, one might consider putting a light bulb underneath the car hood to keep the engine and battery warm.
Tire pressure has a tendency to go down in the extreme cold, so checking their pressure during the cold is even more important. Keeping tires properly inflated helps on gas mileage and makes car handle better. Rotating the tires every six months will help them to last as much as 45 percent longer, said Hatfield.
Keeping enough gas in your car is also important. Gas tanks should be kept at least one-quarter of the way full to help protect the fuel pump and fuel lines.
If you need to drive your car on an extremely cold morning, cars can be run to warm up, which can be accomplished in about 10 minutes.
In the case you are driving and get stuck or drive off the road, having a few simple emergency supplies can help keep you comfortable or can even safe a life. Items to consider keeping in your car include blankets, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, tools and kitty litter to place under the tires.
While driving on roadways during a winter storm can be treacherous, county highway staff members have been busy on the many roads with their salt trucks. Knox County Road Superintendent Dave Feasel told the News that they are currently using salt on the roads, but they will start to mix sand with the salt as the temperatures drop even lower.
This helps cars get better traction as salt will not melt ice when temperatures dip below 0 degrees.
Residents are reminded to be aware of weather emergencies which are issued. According to Knox County Sheriff Dave Shaffer, when it comes to issuing weather emergencies, there are three different emergency levels — level one, two and three. Level one means roadways are hazardous and that people should drive cautiously.
Level two means that roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow and can be icy. Only those who feel it necessary to drive should do so. Workers should contact their employer to see if they need to show up for work.
In a level three emergency, roadways are closed and residents should not be driving due to safety reasons.