Winter! Yes it’s that time of year again and we need to start thinking about proper winter vehicle operation and care. One of the issues that has become more common is engine sludge and oil contamination. This may cause increased risk of engine damage and the decrease of engine performance over time. This increases maintenance costs dramatically.
This problem is directly related to short distance stop and go driving which the majority of drivers in Winnipeg do. Although each vehicle needs different maintenance for this issue, the overall fact is that this affects all cars to some extent.
So what can be done? Let’s look at some options to help keep your car in good Winter operating shape. Creating and keeping heat in the engine can greatly improve your overall winter operating experience and these are as follows:
- Plug in your car! Having an engine heater is critical! Did you know if you park in a garage or heated space overnight, it is still important to plug in the vehicle for at least 1-2 hours depending on how cold it is outside?
Once you start the vehicle the engine will start to warm up however once you get into -20˚ and colder in stop and go traffic , the engine will not heat up sufficiently. Although the interior heat is good, the oil temperatures are insufficient and this creates sludge.
We need to have the engine warm before we go outside into the cold as this will allow the engine oil temperature to stay higher and also reduce fuel consumption during warm up. The vehicle should also be plugged in during the day especially if it is parked outside.
- Installation of a winter front ( grille cover ) if available. Keeping cold air out is key to heating up the engine much faster and retaining that heat for a longer period of time. This is a MUST for diesel engines.
- In slow or stop and go driving, leave the car in a lower gear (for an automatic go to 3 from drive) This will have the engine working a little harder to create more heat.
- Get the car out for a good highway speed run for 30-45 minutes at operating temperature at least once a month to help reduce potential engine issues.
- As well as managing engine temperatures it is also important to ensure that your battery and charging system are in good shape and that the engine has been properly maintained, all of which is part of a thorough pre-winter maintenance inspection.
All cars and driving patterns are different so there may be specific requirements for you and your car.