OGDEN -- When the temperature is down around zero, you don't want to make one really expensive mistake when starting your car.
How expensive? Up to $800.
Cold weather presents many automotive challenges. The locks freeze, the windows are sheathed in iron-like ice, the wheels galumph down the road, the oil turns to sludge and maybe, one cold morning, the darn thing doesn't even start.
How to avoid that?
Dave Voreis at Dave's Auto Repair, Ogden, said the best thing you could do is go back to last September and get your whole car serviced: New antifreeze, oil change, good tires, check the battery, oil the locks and top off the fluids.
"Double-check everything right before winter," he said. "It's a lot easier to fix before it's broke."
If your time machine is out for repairs, there's still a checklist you can work on:
* Make sure your tires are good. Thin tread on snow is asking for a skid.
All-wheel drive cars do well with tires rated for snow and mud. Two-wheel drive cars may need snow tires on all four wheels and maybe even studs on the drive wheels.
* Frozen lock? Don't force it. Use a cigarette lighter to heat the key, put the key in the lock and let it sit. Repeat until the lock thaws.
* Have your antifreeze checked. Old antifreeze can separate, Voreis said, and it's not protecting your engine when that happens.
* Fuel. You don't need to change the grade of gasoline you use, he said, but water condensation in your gas tank can freeze, and "in the kind of weather we're seeing now, it's not a bad idea to run some of the gas line driers."
Keeping the tank half-full helps prevent condensation.
"And diesels definitely want to use additives," he said.
Voreis said diesel fuel solidifies below 20 degrees, so put anti-gel additive in with every fill-up.
* Plug in your diesel engine for easier starts. Technology has improved to the point that diesel engines can start just by using their glow-plugs in this cold, he said, but it's a lot easier if it is plugged in.
* If you can't park inside a garage, at least park by a wall, he said. The added warmth, plus protection from the wind, makes starting easier. There's even enough warmth parking under a tree.
* Warm it up? Voreis admitted environmentalists don't like you to do this, especially for 15 minutes until the inside of the car heats up.
Letting it sit a couple of minutes so the oil warms and spreads is not a bad idea, he said. "It's not comfortable, but you've got the oil circulating."
* Don't be shocked at thumps, bumps, crunching sounds or other indications that your car has a major problem. Most likely, he said, it's just ice around the wheels and suspension.
"People have been saying 'the steering wheel is shaking, my tire is out of balance,' and we get it in here and knock the ice off and that's what it was."
Which brings us to that $800 mistake you can make.
* Don't turn the wiper blades on until they're free from the ice.
Wiper blades have a thing called a "transmission" that makes them go back and forth, back and forth. When the wiper freezes to the windshield, that transmission can break.
"We've done lots of wiper repairs lately, and we've had some that cost $800 to fix, just because they were frozen to the windshield," he said.
Twenty seconds on each side with a scraper can save you a lot of money.