Welcome to another blog article from Auto Spa Towing.  We hope to give our followers and customers some insight into the daily rigours of emergency towing and recovery.  Plus, we will touch on topics like safety issues, winter car maintenance, and trip planning to alleviate any emergency roadside problems many customers are faced with.

During critical situations, many emergency calls could be prevented with a little forethought and ‘uncommon’ sense (since a lot of common sense seems to have disappeared in our society). 

Our towing industry has changed a lot over the past 10-20 years with fewer towing companies in business and the high level of expertise within our industry demanded by the public. 

We, as a company are pushing through our busiest year and are up approximately 40% in sales.  Our company, like many others, are finding it harder to attract qualified and competent operators.  We are thankful our current and long-time serving team has stayed with us and is dedicated to meeting our customers’ needs.

Keep reading to learn more about winterizing your vehicle so you can avoid any emergencies. Just remember, if you do run into trouble, you can always contact us and we will gladly be there to help.

Why Winter Car Maintenance is Important

As part of vehicle winterization, once the temperature has dipped below -10°C, we strongly advise the public to be plugging in their vehicles, whether it’s diesel or not.  We are often told “It started the last 5 years not plugging in, I thought it would start”, followed by, “I need you at my house right away now, because I am late!”. 

Unfortunately, many winter mornings we may have 3 to 10-hour wait times or longer with customers that are broken down on the highway or stranded in the cold.  We try to explain to customers that it is much like a person standing outside all night without a jacket: sooner or later your vehicle, much like your body, will give up and freeze. 

Plugging in your vehicle warms your engine block and hence your oil, allowing it to move freely upon start-up.  Otherwise, your starter will have to work harder to try to turn over the thick, syrup-like oil.

By plugging in your vehicle the battery uses less power to start, allowing the alternator to work easier and replenish power to the drained batteries.  Your internal engine components will be lubed quicker and last longer. Otherwise, your just testing mother nature to see how long your vehicle will start without taking care of it.

Winter Car Maintenance Tips

Keep your vehicle running smoothly all winter long. Here are some of our top tips when it comes to winter vehicle maintenance:

1. Check the plug of your extension cord.  Just because it is plugged into your car, it may still not be working.  Is the breaker box tripped, is the cord in good working condition, is the actual block heater heating?  You should be able to hear a hiss or crackle of the block heater warming the block if it’s a cold engine, or reach under the engine and feel if any heat is on the block where the heater is attached.  PLUGGING A VEHICLE IN DOES NOTHING TO CHARGE THE BATTERY!! This is a misconception of many people.

2. Check to make sure your vehicle is in Park to start.  Many calls for service include our operators putting the vehicle into park and turning the key.

3. Keep plenty of gas in your vehicle is always a must, especially in winter in case of emergencies or long wait times on roads.  Any foreign material or water that may be in the last few litres of gasoline in your tank could adversely affect the performance of your vehicle, and future repairs. It does not have to become a game of ”let’s see how far she’ll go on empty!

4. Once started, keep an extra set of keys to get back into the vehicle.  We attend about 5-10 calls per day where the customer says, ”that vehicle is not supposed to lock with keys in”.

5. Do not attempt to give your vehicle the pristine wash job at -20°C and expect the doors, windows, and locks to not freeze.  Vehicles need to be dried after washing.  Gasoline antifreeze and methyl hydrate will help with frozen locks, but a lot of times we have to tow the unit to a heated shop.

6. Push button starter vehicles seem to require a longer or more intense boost than older keyed units.  A good charging system or two sets of cables may be required with a minimum of 10 minutes of charging to even turn over these vehicles.  Please be careful of sparking the positive end of any live cable as it could lead to an electric spike in the system and damage to the electrical system.

7. Many customers tell us they hear a clicking noise but their vehicle won’t start.  The continuous click is the starter trying to engage but does not have enough power to make a full revolution and clicks back into it rest position.  Either a poor ground or not enough charge is left in that battery to produce the desired result of starting the vehicle.

A single click is normally a dead short in the starter or solenoid.  Tapping the starter may solve the issue while turning over the key to start.

8. Test and/or replace your battery every 4-5 years.  With the new technology in vehicles and ongoing computer diagnostics running constantly, batteries do not last like they used to.  Getting tested prior to winter will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

9. Check your fluids and put in winter windshield fluid for those days when you require a little help clearing the snow and ice out of your view.

10. Prior to getting into your vehicle and starting it up, do a weekly or daily circle check around your vehicle checking for low tires, missing lug nuts, or damage to the vehicle, making sure everything is in working order before you get on the road.

We hope some of these winter car maintenance tips will help you prepare your vehicle for whatever winter throws at you and keep you and your family safe when on the road. 

If something does happen and you find yourself with a vehicle that won’t start, give our professional operators in Medicine Hat a call at (403)526-8787. We’ll be happy to help so you can get back on the road safely!