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Local auto service offers tips on winterizing your vehicle

Is your vehicle ready for a frigid North Dakota winter? Owners of Joe's Auto Service Joe Miller and Ryan Praus offer tips on how to winterize your vehicle and care for it during the season. While it's a good idea to keep up the maintenance on you...

Is your vehicle ready for a frigid North Dakota winter? Owners of Joe's Auto Service Joe Miller and Ryan Praus offer tips on how to winterize your vehicle and care for it during the season.

While it's a good idea to keep up the maintenance on your vehicle, it's especially important in winter. In particular, check your battery, alternator and tires.

"Before winter, you should have your vehicle checked over and have a good maintenance check done on it ... so you don't break down in the winter time," Miller said. "Winters here are hard, and you don't want to be stranded out here in the cold cause your belt breaks or hose bursts."

Make sure that you have the proper coolant for the weather.

"We seen a lot of vehicles from down south that moved up here that their coolant is good for 20 (degrees) above," Miller said. "Well, we get to 20 (degrees) below pretty easy around here, so you can pretty easily freeze up your radiator system."

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If you don't have the proper coolant, the cold weather could cause costly damage to your vehicle.

"You could cause a lot of maintenance issues just by not checking your coolant," Praus said. "I've seen some when they freeze too they'll split the rubber coolant hoses. If your heater core freezes, that's kind of a high-dollar item now because you have to take the whole dash out. On average, it's probably $1,000 to $1,500 just in labor."

They recommend letting your vehicle warm up for about 10 to 15 minutes - depending on how cold it is - before you drive. When it gets colder outside, the liquids in your vehicle get thicker, from "warm pancake syrup to cold honey," Praus said.

To prevent your door locks from freezing, spray penetrating oil or WD40 in the locks, said Praus. If you find yourself locked out of your vehicle for this reason, you can spray rubbing alcohol in keyhole.

To protect your vehicle's paint and prevent it from rusting, wash your car frequently.

"When it's warm out, get that salt and road grime off the car," Miller said. "If you drive gravel roads, keep the mud out of corners. Make sure you get a good underbody wash."

Praus added, "After it's clean, you could apply wax so the water runs off of it."

Check your tire pressure frequently, too. When it gets colder outside, the air pressure drops in your tires, they said.

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Avoid running your gas tank low, as it can leave room for condensation in your tank.

"Cars run on gasoline, and when you start getting it loaded down with condensation - which basically is water - it doesn't want to fire because it's not igniting gas; it's trying to ignite water and gas," Praus said.

The cold weather can freeze the water in your tank, causing your fuel line to freeze and stopping gas flow, Miller said.

To prevent condensation in your gas tank, they said you can keep it fuller or put a treatment in your tank called Heet that will help evaporate that water.

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