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Get your car ready for winter

Blake McCandless, of Butler Tires for Less, 8 Pittsburgh Road, Butler, balances a customer’s tire before it goes back on the vehicle on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Drivers need to prepare their cars for winter by checking the car’s fluids, battery and tires. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle
Jerry Steiner, 55, owner of Steiner's Garage, 301 S. Chestnut St., Butler, checks the oil on his wife's car at their garage on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. Steiner emphasized the importance of checking the oil in your car once a month and making sure to use the manufacturer's recommended oil weight for top ups and changes. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

Winter is right around the corner, and in Butler County, the season almost always seems to create problems for drivers from start to finish. But there are a number of ways drivers can limit the likelihood of mishaps.

Cars require a lot of care year-round. Most vehicles are on the road almost every day and can take a beating. However, making sure to complete a few simple maintenance steps — such as checking your oil, battery and tires — can help maximize your car’s performance. And it can help keep drivers and passengers alike safe.

Jerry Steiner, a mechanic at Steiner Garage, 301 S. Chestnut St., Butler, said there are key areas to keep an eye on before bad weather rolls around.

“You want to make sure that you change your oil (before winter hits); you want have good, clean oil and coolant in your car,” Steiner said. “When you’re driving on the winter roads, I’d also make sure you have good tires. A lot of people neglect their tires.”

In most cars, oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. But when the weather turns colder, oil tends to get thicker. This can cause stress on your engine because the oil flows slower through it, Steiner said. Getting oil changed before cold weather hits can help.

Cold weather also makes checking your car’s oil a little more work. To get an accurate reading, Steiner recommends you let the car run for few minutes before stopping it, and then check the dipstick markings to ensure a proper oil level.

It also helps to keep an eye on your battery, because frigid temperatures can cause batteries to drain more quickly. Additionally, Steiner said short trips with quick starts and stops can strain an older battery.

“It’s definitely a good idea to get your battery checked before the weather starts to turn,” Steiner said.

When roads are bad, the most obvious and safest measure would be to simply stay home. However, commuters in Butler County often must venture out in their cars through snow and sleet.

It’s crucial to take it slow when driving and make sure your car is equipped to prevent or reduce slides and skids.

Good tires can make all the difference in poor conditions, said Jim Young, tire expert at Butler Tires for Less, 8 Pittsburgh Road, Butler.

“One of the most important things to (monitor) is the air pressure in your tires, because as it gets colder, the pressure in your tires will drop,” Young said.

Check your tire pressure. As the cold air begins to move in, tires sometimes lose a little of their pressure, and thus all four tires may not be even, he said. This can cause tires to pop in some cases, because you’re driving with less air in them.

Make sure you have the correct tires for your car’s optimal performance. You can find this information in your car’s manual.

“It does depend on the kind of car you have, because some cars have tires that ... are all-weather and some are all-season,” Young said. “The all-weather tires have a little bit better traction in the winter,” he said, while traction on all-season tires is not as good.

Both Steiner and Young agree that for optimum traction, tires must be matched to the vehicle.

“It pretty much goes by car, but I’d like to recommend the Winterforce tires,” Steiner said, which are made by Firestone. “I’ve had those on multiple of my cars, and they’re great tires.”

In general, winter tires will get the best performance, but there are a wide variety of tire choices that can help keep cars on the road, Young said.

“Winter treads are going to get you the best traction of any tire that’s not classified as just a snow tire,” Young said. “Definitely check tire treads before you go onto the road in snowy conditions.”

From left, Brandon Cicon, Pam Steiner, Jerry Steiner and Leroy Steiner of Steiner's Garage, at 301 S. Chestnut St., Butler. Jerry Steiner recommends drivers check the oil, battery and tires before winter. Steve Cukovich/Butler Eagle

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