Thanksgiving gave East End residents a frozen taste of the cold winter ahead. If your car made It through the sudden deep freeze, knock on wood, and prepare for more of the same. Every winter, car owners on the East End who ignore
common sense tips end up paying, — sometimes with a totaled automobile.
“The first thing car owners should do is have their antifreeze tested,” Peter Rucano, a mechanic at Montauk’s Marshall’s Service Station, said. “Just because it is full, doesn’t mean that it is good.” Antifreeze that sits in a car for several years can go bad, he said. Cooling hoses and radiators can crack. That can lead to the engine block being damaged. “Then you are in real trouble,” he warned.
“Next, have your battery checked and load-tested,” he said. “Every winter we replace 30 to 40 batteries, and it costs an hour, two hours of extra labor” involved with emergency towing, etc.
Servicing vehicles is key. “The worst thing for a vehicle is having low, dirty oil” and starting your engine in the freezing cold, he noted.
Snow tires? If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, they are a great idea, he said.
One of the worst things Rucano has seen making winter emergency calls was a frozen fuel system. Low gas tanks are an invitation for condensation, and a frozen fuel line is a recipe for disaster, he said. “Spending a little money on winter maintenance and getting yourself through is better than being on the side of the road, and then losing your vehicle in the worst circumstances,” he said.
Providing examples of what can go wrong, Rucano said he was called to rescue a 2015 Honda Accord last January. The vehicle was stuck in the municipal parking lot in Montauk in icy snow, transmission in reverse, the front-wheel drive wheels spinning. Unfortunately, the driver was not behind the wheel. With the car not moving, the driver had gotten out and shut the door when he got stuck, not realizing that, because the transmission was engaged, the doors would lock automatically.
By the time Rucano was able to get past the locked door and into the interior, the engine was smoking. With a blown head gasket and an estimate of repairs exceeding the value of the car, the vehicle had to be totaled.