Mechanic tips on keeping your vehicle safe and drive-able in the bitter cold

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Bitter cold can cause things to not work or act like they usually do. Nowhere is that more evident than with your automobile. Black Hills FOX's Jon Wilson stopped by Midas in Rapid City for some tips on how to keep your vehicle in good condition in the cold temps.

Head Technician Carl McCormack says, "These things get hot, and then they get cold, then they get hot, then they get cold."

All while temperatures around the Black Hills have stayed cold, very cold at times. That cold routinely causes issues with vehicles, and it's important for your wallet to be sure of several things, some before you even take off.

McCormack says, "If the oil's not lubricating, you cause engine problems down the road because it needs that oil, and on start up is the worst time because oil turns to thick syrup. It doesn't lubricate anymore.

McCormack says to at least let your vehicle warm up for a few minutes to let the fluids warm and begin cycling through. Tires are crucial as well, both tread thickness and air pressure.

McCormack says, "Check your air pressures, visually look at them. It helps to just look at them sometimes. People just want to hurry up and get in the car because it's cold."

In the cold, pressure decreases in your vehicle's tires, and although that will help with overall grip, it is outweighed by the risks of driving with under-inflated tires that could go flat or blow out while driving. Tread thickness is not a huge concern in the cold alone, but a few hundredths of an inch can make a big difference on snow and ice.

McCormack says, "Tire thicknesses for good tread, 10/32" but when you get down to about 4/32" or 5/32" traction is gone. Snow packs in there, and it becomes a slick.

Keeping your windows clear of snow and ice is obvious, but pay attention to where all of that goes.

McCormack says, "This is another issue, right here where people don't clean the snow off from underneath their windshield wipers, and it will break it. It packs them down, and you just easily take the snow out of there and it will help save your windshield wipers.

Using your windshield wipers to clear snow and ice also causes uneven wear on the wiper blades, and it's best to clear the windows with a brush or ice scraper. The battery faces extra work in the cold too, as it requires more power to crank the engine.

McCormack says, "Normally it would be fine, but when you're getting into sub-zero temperatures, it can't hold that charge to turn this engine because it's hard to turn because it's cold."

Your vehicle's battery should measure to 12.4 volts or higher to be confident it will be able to start your engine on a very cold day.