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Notes From The Road

This Winter, Don’t Get Your Car Stuck Before It Gets Started
By Mark Salem, NASCAR® Performance Crew Chief

Vehicle Warm-up
When starting a vehicle in cold weather, be sure to allow the engine to idle for a few seconds before driving off. Why? Because doing so will ensure proper oil flow and lubrication. That said, don’t allow the engine to idle for a prolonged period after start-up in cold weather. All this does is waste fuel. It doesn’t do anything to warm drive-train components. After starting your car and allowing it to idle for a short time, just drive easily for several miles to ensure proper vehicle warm-up. 

Icy Windows and Locks
Make sure you keep an ice scraper in your car, and check your windshield wipers and defrosters (front and rear) to verify that they’re working properly. De-icers for door locks are also useful, but heated keys are a bit better when locks are frozen.

Stock the Trunk
It’s always smart to be prepared, so make sure you keep a few useful items in your trunk – a small shovel to help dig out of snow is a good start. I also recommend keeping a bag of sand in the trunk. It not only gives added traction with its weight, but you also can sprinkle it on snow or ice to improve your traction. Finally, throw an extra blanket, hat and gloves in the trunk, just in case.

Winter’s coming – so be your own pit crew chief and make sure your car is ready. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have a much better season out on the road.


Mark Salem is the “NASCAR® Performance Crew Chief” and hosts a regular “Be Car Care Aware” segment on Speed Channel’s “NASCAR ® Performance” television show. An ASE Certified Master Technician, he is the owner of Salem Boys Auto, an auto-repair facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

NASCAR® is a registered trademark of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.



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