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Is your car ready for another McHenry winter?

Don’t allow warm weather to lull you into a false sense of security

McHenry winter driving
There are still boats out on the Fox River as cars cross the
bridge on Green Street in McHenry. But, don't let the warm
weather fool you - winter is coming. Make sure your car
is ready.
Last weekend, the thermometer hit 92 degrees. So far this week, it’s felt more like August than September and we’re almost in October. Don’t let the warm weather fool you – another McHenry winter is coming and you’ll want your car ready for the cold and snow and ice and – Brrrrrrr!

As warm as it has been lately, it’s likely we’ll see the temperatures as close to the opposite end of the thermometer in December, January, February and … well, that’s not a thought to dwell on right now. The point is that this warm spell has the potential to lull us into a false sense of security.

What guarantee do we have that temperatures won’t plunge below freezing next week (not to worry, the forecast for McHenry calls for night-time lows of 44 degrees, at the lowest, through Oct. 6)? The point is, a precipitous drop in the temperature could happen at any time. Or, we could have weather remain unseasonably warm into early December. Then, as Mother Nature brings a frozen hammer down, we’ll plunge into the frigid depths of winter.

The point is that it won’t hurt to prepare for winter, whether winter is just around the corner or waiting further down the road. And, while it won’t hurt to prepare for winter before it comes, it can hurt if you haven’t prepared your car when winter does come.

Winter tests a car. It ferrets out any weakness in your vehicle. Mechanical parts become brittle when the temperature drops. If a part is close to breaking already, winter can finish the job. That part is brittle and then you hit a pothole in the road. SNAP!!! Hopefully, it won’t cause you to lose control of your car and crash into a tree along a McHenry highway or, worse, into an oncoming car.

The cold will also test your car’s electrical system. On a frigid morning, you may find that your car won’t start. Why? Well, the oil is thicker and it’s harder for the starter to turn the engine over. This puts an additional strain on the battery. And, if the battery is already weak … well, there you go. Or, maybe I should say, ‘There you sit’ because your car isn’t taking you anywhere until you can get it started.

What if your antifreeze isn’t able to handle the colder temperatures we’ll see this coming winter? If it’s old, it’s also weak. Weak means that it won’t remain in a liquid state at the same low temperatures it would have otherwise. If the antifreeze freezes, you could wind up with a cracked engine block, and that’s not an inexpensive part to replace.

What about your own comfort when driving in the winter? You do want the car to heat up inside where you’re sitting, right? It’s a nasty surprise to discover when it’s below zero outside, that you can’t heat up the inside of your car. Well, as they say, ‘dress in layers.’

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