The sight of your crystallized breath as you walk from you home into the cold, cruel world is enough to send shivers of fear through many of us. Brrrr! I can feel the frigid wind pasting the cold polyester of my pants to my legs just thinking about it! So what do you think that cold is doing to your car, which has been sitting inside all night or, at best, ensconced in a drafty garage? It can't be a good thing, can it?
Now a lot of people will tell you there are things you can do to help your car run better in this desperate situation, but who asked them to butt it? Why don't they worry about their own cars, their own finances and their own relationships and just leave us the heck alone? We don't like the cold, and we're comfortable with that, so don't tell us to go out in it to work on our cars. Better we should be inside our apartments, curled up in an easy chair with a good book, sound asleep. Now that's living!
And in that spirit of justifiable sloth, here are several things you shouldn't do to make you car run better this winter:
1. Routine Maintenance
Now what could be duller, more, er, routine, than "routine maintenance?" You take something about as mundane as can be like maintenance, which everybody hates, and then add the qualifier "routine?" Who wants to do that? We say just blow off the oil changes and the battery and fluid checks. You're car's running, right? So it'll probably keep running, at least for a while. Don't be a slave to the routine. Live on the edge.
Sure, a lot of people swear by it, but to us lubrication is way overrated -- maybe even scientifically unfounded. We think a lot of people change their oil just because they're scared not to (an incredible marketing scheme foisted on us by Big Oil). Take it from us, no matter how clapped-out it is, your car already has some oil in there...somewhere.
3. Filters, Coolant and Hoses
Where we come from, only hosers check their hoses. And while we all realize your car is filled with filters -- oil, gas and air -- have you ever seen a filter fail? You can change them if you really want to, but our advice is: just leave 'em alone and let 'em keep filterin'. Ditto the coolant, which is basically high-priced water with some alcohol in it. Odds are it'll last another winter, which is more than you can say for your Great Uncle Milo.
4. Tire Pressure
You're not on your rims, are you? Well, Einstein, that means you have air in your tires. Do you really want to get out of your car, try to screw those little tops off the grimy tire valves just to confirm what you already know? And here's a message a lot of folks don't get: if you drive fast enough, your tires actually fill themselves. Beauty!
5. Vehicle Warm-up
Totally unnecessary, plus it fills the environment with carbon monoxide and other really stinky stuff while you're just sitting there. We say gas it and go. In nearly the immortal words of Timothy Leary or somebody like him, "Turn on, tune in, takeoff!"
6. Slow Down
You think we got all day? You probably have places to go, people to meet, taxes to dodge, so our advice is, get on with it. Sure, ice, snow and slush will keep the lame from getting out of their own way, and if you're really lucky, they'll just stay home where they belong.
7. Dealing with Ice
Some people say you must deal with unpleasant or even potentially disastrous things like ice, but isn't it far easier just to ignore them? Ice, like wedding gifts and family obligations, is simply something else the herd mentality puts in front of you pretty much just to piss you off. We say, don't fall in the trap. If you see ice on the road, pretend it isn't there. It might not be.
8. Keep Fuel in the Tank
What -- am I made outta money? Gasoline costs big cash these days, so we suggest you try to squeeze as much out of tank-full as you can before forcing yourself back out into the cold to replenish it. There is a chance that by the time you really need to fill your tank, the price will have gone down. Or it might even be spring! And wouldn't that be rich?
Driving Today Managing Editor Jack R. Nerad thinks that inertia is vastly underrated when it comes to car maintenance and pretty much any other stuff as well. And he's proud that he wrote this feature while in bed.