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updated: 12/16/2012 7:49 AM

Battery care is vital for stored cars

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Q. I purchased a new 6-year battery in January 2011. On average, how many weeks would a garaged 2002 Pontiac Bonneville's battery be OK before a trickle charger would be necessary?

A. I am not sure there is anyway to know that for sure as many variables will come into play like; the condition of the battery, the temperature of the storage room, the draw on the battery from the car, etc.

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How long is the car going to be in storage? If it's a good quality battery you may be able to go 6 months and have the car start just fine in the springtime.

I have written in the past about having an automatic smart charger installed and it will keep the battery in an optimal state. One of the brands that makes different variations of this is Battery Tender. They are smart chargers and will turn on and off based on the need, so they won't cook the battery.

I hope this helps.

Winterization

With winter coming, I think, "What should I be taking care of on my vehicle to get ready?"

This is a question we get asked almost daily these days and the answer is fairly simple; take care of all the needed maintenance and you should pull through the winter weather just fine.

The things you want to pay attention to would be the following:

•Be sure the oil is changed and that you have the correct oil in the car

•Be sure all the fluids are clean and topped off to the proper level. If they are dirty or have not been changed per the maintenance schedule, you should have that done.

•Have a brake inspection performed, including making sure the anti-lock brakes are working.

•Inspect the tires for good tread life and to be sure there is no cracking on the sidewalls.

•Inspect all lighting and replace any burned out light bulbs. If the plastic headlights have become dull and degraded, have them replace or restored so that you can get sufficient light through them.

•Be sure your wiper blades are cleaning the windshield properly and that your windshield washer system works and is full.

•Test the heater and defroster system for proper working condition. Be sure it blows heat and that all the modes and fan speeds work, including the defroster. By the way, the air conditioner needs to work to help you properly defrost and defog the windows.

•Shut your wipers off with the wiper switch, not the engine. If you come out to a snowy frozen car, turning on the engine with the wipers activated and frozen to the windshield will likely damage either the wiper motor, wiper transmission, wiper blades and/or damage the windshield. Same caution should be used when operating power windows on a frozen vehicle. Wait until the car is sufficiently thawed out. It is very common for us to have to replace window regulators and wiper components in cold weather from driver error. Avoid these costly mistakes this winter!

•Keep your gas tank full just in case you get surprised by one of those really long weather-related standstill traffic jams.

•Put together an emergency kit for your trunk for "just in case." Minimally something to keep warm, drinking water, first aid kit, small shovel, ice scraper, small bag of sand or salt for traction if you get stuck, jumper cables, washer fluid and a flashlight. You can include more but these are the basics.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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