Common Sense Car Care

By Rick Ostien

I would like to start this month’s article with the January article I wrote that never made it to print.

The month of December is the time that I take a day before the Christmas break to deliver muffins to other people in the automotive trade. The sad thing for me is the list is getting shorter each year. Our family business of 75 years has sustained the good and the bad. For that, we want to thank our loyal customers and our new ones also. Without your support we would never have made it this long.

This past year we have still seen a shortage in our work force. The automotive technician is in higher demand now more than ever. The high-tech vehicle that was new a few years ago now is getting older and is out of warranty. This means that most of the old problems will still exist, but now our new problems will be all electronics. This means more equipment to do the needed repairs, but more important is the technician who will do the repairs.

I have seen an increase in electrical repairs since last year that have demanded more diagnostic time than before. The other problem that we have encountered is the customer that jumps from one repair facility to another for the same problem. This creates more diagnostic time to determine what was done by someone else before we can continue with the repair. This costs the customer more money and time that they thought they were saving. I have said in previous articles and this still holds true, find a repair facility you trust and have them perform the services you need.

The southern New England weather has raised many problems for motor vehicles and for drivers. Lack of preparation for snow, ice, rain, freezing rain, hail, and anything else mother nature can throw at us. A foul weather survival kit should be in all vehicles. Road closures are common due to an accident. Waiting for hours for the road to open can cause problems for the driver and passengers stranded in this situation. The survival kit should contain blankets, cell phone charger or portable battery for the phone, flash light, snacks, boots, extra clothing, snow brush with a scraper, snow shovel, kitty litter, and liquid to drink. Be careful with liquids because they can freeze. 

Owners of full electric vehicles need to keep their vehicle fully charged. Cold weather and time waiting in traffic deplete battery charge. We had a friend who found himself stuck in traffic because of an accident. Their electric vehicle charge dropped to 5%. This is not a good spot to be in. Know where a charging station is and get there before you drop this low. 

Gasoline and diesel vehicles keep your tank from full to ¾. It does cost you for the initial fill up, but keeping your tank topped off costs no more than letting it get close to empty and then adding a few gallons.  The full tank of fuel adds extra weight and will help you with better traction in bad road conditions. Good tires and batteries should be maintained year around. 

One last thing is to always warm up your vehicle. There have been people saying this is not necessary. The person who is a runner or plays sports always warms up their body before participating in a practice or game. A vehicle is no different, fluids need to get moving in a car or truck too. 

Please drive defensively making sure to keep two hands on the steering wheel, giving other drivers plenty of space (car lengths), and reducing your speed. These three simple things can head off a bad scene on the road and consequently a bad day.

Rick Ostien is the owner of Franc Motors in Willington.

Leave a Reply