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Windsor Mechanic: Simple Things Could Put Me Out of Business

If people did the simple things to take care of their car, Chuck Dufresne wouldn't have the customers to stay in business, the Windsor mechanic says. Nevertheless, he's offering up some tips to keep cars rolling and drivers safe during the col

Let's be honest: It's been gorgeous outside for a couple days now, and, save for the week you've planned to take the family on that vacation to the ski slopes, a warmer winter is certainly welcome.

To avoid the pitfall that is our collective stubbornness, however, it's necessary we face the facts: it's November; winter is drawing nigh; and temperatures, while blissfully warm as of today, will proceed to plummet through the first quarter of 2013.

That said, while we're enjoying this warm spell, it'd behoove us all to prepare for the worst, including checking all the bells and whistles that come with making sure our trusty automobiles are ready to brave the long and arduous winter.

Taking care of the bells and whistles, particularly "the simple things," according to Windsor's Chuck Dufresne, will not only ensure safer travels in cold weather, but it will save drivers a bundle of cash, as well.

"If more people did the simple things... I wouldn't be in business. It's that simple," explained Dufresne, owner of Poquonock Avenue's Chuck's Auto Repair Shop.

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Cold weather negatively affects anything mechanical, and cars are no different, according to Dufresne.

"The engine is cold, the oil coagulates to almost a sludge, if you will. So you turn the key and you've got this dry oil, so to speak. It takes three or four minutes for the engine to reach temperature and get everything lubricated," Dufresne said.

The solution? According to Dufresne, oil sludge can be avoided by changing the oil you put in your car in the colder months.

"For conversation purposes — Summer oil: 10w40. Winter oil: 5w40. It thins out quicker and will get your engine going," he said.

With your engine oil changed, however, your battle against liquids inside the car isn't over, and some may be surprised to learn what could be the culprit: permanent antifreeze.

For starters, permanent antifreeze isn't permanent, Dufresne said.

According to Dufresne, antifreeze breaks down, and is actually "the second most corrosive fluid you have in your car, short of the battery acid."

"It eats up radiators, it eats up cooling hoses, it eats up the heating cord, and it chews it away. Heating cords are huge expenses, and you'll pop a hole in it after six, seven years because nobody changed the antifreeze," he said.

As a solution, Dufresne recommends flushing out the radiator.

With the introduction of colder weather, said Dufresne, car owners should have belts and hoses checked, but among the most critical things one can do is check and maintain tire pressure.

Contrary to what some may believe, Dufresne said, car owners do not need to buy new tires in the winter.

Maintaining tire pressure is critical in the winter for "gas mileage, number one; tire wear, number two; and stability on the snow and ice," he said. "You've got a low tire — there are tires squirming all over the road — and you lose your stearing ability."

Tires are only needed when worn down, and drivers should be fine as long as they check their tire treads, said Dufresne.

The clock is ticking, but time hasn't run out. Durfresne said car owners should have their cars serviced between now and December, before we reach the "10-degree and zero-degree temperatures."

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