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Cold cars and drivers gearing up for winter

Staff writer

Samantha Wood plans to do something different this winter with her car. She’s going to put socks on her windshield wipers.

“I saw it on Facebook,” she said. “They said to put the wipers up and socks on ‘em.”

Wood’s car stays outside at night, and a pair of old socks slipped over the windshield wipers in the evening means Wood won’t have to de-ice the blades in the cold morning.

“I’m going to try it,” Wood said outside Ampride Tuesday morning. “One year I put a cardboard box across my windshield and put the wipers on top to hold it. That worked. I just shoved it off and I was ready to go.”

Drivers gassing up their vehicles Tuesday morning and stopping in for coffee at Ampride and Casey’s General Store in Marion shared what they planned to do to winterize their transportation. For some, they don’t do much— or anything at all.

“I just take my chances,” said Becky Hager, working behind the counter at Ampride. “I don’t do anything special.”

Gail Makovec has his car serviced, including checking the antifreeze level and oil, as well as the tires. He also makes sure he has blankets in the car.

“In case you get stranded,” Makovec explained while holding a cup of coffee inside Casey’s.

Makovec has never been stranded in his vehicle in the winter, and he thinks having the blankets inside the car is the reason. “If I didn’t have them in there, I probably would have been,” Makovec said.

Jeanine Becker, while working the cash register at Casey’s, said she was stranded in her car one winter in Minnesota.

“I got caught in a drift for ten hours,” Becker said. “It was hell, but thank God I had a full tank of gas, so they were able to find me because I kept my vehicle running. They saw the taillights. I was buried. The snow drifts, and it’s deceiving. I went right off into the ditch.”

Becker prepares for winter by keeping a winter kit in her car that includes bottled water, candles, matches, newspaper and blankets.

“I make sure the battery is up,” said Sam Johnson. “Back when I used to drive junkers, the batteries used to go down all the time. Now they’ve got these batteries that last years.”

Barry Allen, owner of Webster’s Auto Services in Marion, said today’s motor oil is a higher quality than it used to be, and so is the antifreeze and car batteries.

Still, car batteries deserve attention this time of year.

“That’s probably a big thing going into winter, make sure the battery is good and replace it with the proper size battery,” Allen said. “Some try to go with the cheaper version, and it doesn’t have the cranking amps it needs when it gets cold. In normal temperature it’s OK, but it doesn’t have the power when it’s cold.”

Allen said cars today require less preparation for winter than they used to, but folks still need to make sure they have enough windshield washer fluid and their tires are properly inflated. Too often people tend to neglect their scheduled oil change.

“Everybody is so busy they don’t take the time to get it done,” Allen said. “Oil is cheaper than an engine.”

Brandon Wiggins winterized his SUV by changing the fluids under the hood and making sure they were at the proper levels. Still, he recently ran into trouble. He has a leaky rear tire, and he planned to fix it with a $10 patch.

However, three miles outside Florence the other rear tire suffered a blow out through the sidewall. The new tire cost him $85, and he still has the leaky tire with a nail hole in it to fix. The blowout happened on his and his wife’s anniversary.

“What can you do?” Wiggins said with a laugh. “I like winter. It’s fun for me. Winter is way better than summer to me.”

Last modified Nov. 20, 2014

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