Niagara Gazette

Features

January 30, 2014

TOM'S CORNER: Helping your vehicle survive the frozen tundra

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — STEERING /SUSPENSION

Snow covered roads conceal dangerous road imperfections. Driving through them can result in steering and suspension carnage. Deep potholes, speed bumps, curbs, large rocks or icepacks can do massive damage to the underside of your vehicle, especially if it’s a car that’s low to the ground. Ball joints, control arms, and steering linkages have movable joints that are either a pivot or ball-and-socket design. Hard and shocking impacts can actually cause joint separation. So slow down & navigate the snow-covered roads with caution, or pay the consequences.

ENGINE COOLING SYSTEM

Your engine comes from the factory with a pre-mixed antifreeze/water solution. This solution protects the cooling system from freezing when it gets cold outside. Antifreeze can lose its protection properties either over time or when the cooling system leaks and is refilled with water. If your engine freezes up, the water inside it expands and can do catastrophic damage. Each cylinder has a set of “water jackets” that coolant runs through to cool the engine. If the coolant in the water jackets freezes and expands, the engine block can crack destroying the engine. Flush and refill the cooling system with fresh coolant every 2 years or 24,000 miles to protect it. 

TRANSMISSION/DRIVETRAIN

Rocking the car out of deep snow — On snowy days it’s easy to get stuck in a snowdrift, especially if you don’t have adequate winter tires. Numerous drivetrains are destroyed from abuse during a snowstorm. Broken drive shafts, CV & universal joints, cooked transmissions, differential ring and pinion gears sheared off, transfer cases internally damaged. Why? Because the drivers refuse to dig out or call a tow truck when they get stuck. Many people get frustrated and start gunning the engine, shifting forward and reverse while keeping the gas pedal floored. They think they can “rock” the vehicle to get enough momentum to free themselves. It’s like setting off a grenade in the drivetrain every time you reverse direction. Internal parts are made of steel that goes through a special heating process during manufacturing. This hardens the steel so that it resists steady wear over long periods. There is one drawback to hardened steel, it is brittle and cannot sustain hard and sudden shock. Impact of this sort causes stress cracks, shearing and breaking of parts. Call a tow truck when you get stuck in the snow, it’s cheaper in the long run.

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