Watch these things on your car during cold months

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) –  You fire up the car and then…the check engine light comes on.

Given the wide range of temps this month, it’s probably because of your tires.

Ivy Tech Automotive Program Chair John Timberman says tire inflation has been down due to the cold earlier this month.

“The colder the weather gets, obviously the air becomes less [pressurized] and the tire pressure goes down,” said Timberman. “You might see as much as a 20 percent swing in your tire pressure.”

Most cars should be inflated to around 32 psi and upper 30s for large trucks. The exact info can be found on a yellow sticker on the door frame. If you want less fluctuation in pressure, nitrogen is the way to go.

“The only way to do that, would be to just put a nitrogen fill in the tires, which at 100 percent nitrogen, there will be no fluctuation in it at all,” urged Timberman. “You can tell if your car has a nitrogen fill in it because a lot of cars use green caps.”

Keeping dirt and condensation off your headlights is key to better lighting on winter nights. Also monitor your check engine light – it could come on for many reasons, but not all of them are benign.

“You could have a misfire where a spark plug had fouled or possibly an ignition coil or something like that has fouled. that could actually damage the catalytic converter.”

Another tip to know is how to jump-start a car. You use the red on first last off rule, with the donor battery being wired first. Just watch how you wire the last negative lead to the dead battery.

“Try and find a remote ground, like that [a nut on the engine block],” pointed out Timberman. “A lot of times you’re going to find the batteries may leak. A lot of times that’s hydrogen gas on top of a battery. If you hook that to this like that and would happen to make a spark, it could cause the battery to explode.”

Stick to these tips and hopefully your car will make it through another winter. Safe travels!