Winter Roads Driving Tips

winter roads


Winter roads can be tricky to drive on. There are three important keys to driving safe in the winter; stay alert, slow down, and have control of your vehicle. Remember to keep your gas tank sufficiently full – at least half a tank is recommended. Winter driving conditions such as rain, snow, and ice dramatically affect the braking distance of a vehicle. When handling slippery winter roads, the keys to safety are slower speeds, gentler stops and turns, and increased following distances. Drivers need to reduce their speed to half the posted speed limit or less under snowy road conditions.

Inspect the tires


Tire pressure usually lowers itself in winter and raises itself in summer. Under-inflated tires can cause a car to react more slowly to steering. Every time the outside temperature drops ten degrees, the air pressure inside your tires goes down about one or two PSI. Tires lose air normally through the process of permeation. Drivers should check their tire pressures frequently during cold weather, also adding enough air to keep them at recommended levels of inflation at all times.

Road conditions


Sand and salt play a big role in keeping roads safe. Spreading road salt prevents snow and ice from bonding to the road surface. Salt is spread early in a storm to prevent snow build-up and to aid in snow removal. You will want to leave enough room around snowplows to make sure that you do not run into them or have an accident. Being aware of the road condition, weather condition, and surroundings are important.

Windshield wipers


Correctly operating windshield wipers and defrosters are essential to safety while driving in snow and ice conditions. Properly maintained windshield wipers are a must. You can use special blades that are available to assist in the removal of snow from the windshield. The defroster effectiveness is essential in the initial clearing of snow and ice from the windshield. If you notice an issue with your vehicle or how it is heating, bring it in. We can inspect the vehicle for you.


Battery inspections in the Winter


The battery is important with how your vehicle starts. In the winter, the cold temperatures wreak havoc on batteries because they slow the chemical reaction inside of the battery. Though batteries can function under myriad conditions, the cold weather tends to degrade high-quality batteries and may render other batteries useless. There are various ways to protect them from failure in the cold, and some of them involve taking precautionary measures.

Battery is old

If your battery is old, you may need to replace it. If your car is still running on its original one and your card is several years old, it may be a good idea to get a new one before there is an issue. Battery size will not necessarily provide better starting. It’s important to buy the correct one for the make of your car, which can usually be found inside of the owner’s manual.

Poor care

Corrosion can prevent a car from starting just as much as a worn-out battery. Corrosion is caused by a faulty connection that allows acid to escape and corrode surrounding areas. Regularly inspect it to keep abreast of issues that may cause corrosion. Carefully clean away any corrosion residue that has formed and make sure the battery is correctly seated.

Turn off electronics

Do not start the car with the heater and the radio on. They can use up the power coming from the car’s alternator and prevent the battery from charging. Do not leave the heat and the radio on while the car is idling. Otherwise the car will not be putting out enough power for the alternator. This is difficult to charge the battery and power the electrical systems. When storing your vehicle in a garage for the winter, disconnect it. Certain devices, such as clocks and alarm systems, continue to drain the power when the vehicle is off. When your car will not be driven enough to recharge it, keep it disconnected. This is when the automobile is being stored. If you notice an issue with how the vehicle is starting, bring it in. We can inspect the vehicle for you.


A Engine Efficient is Important


When you own a vehicle, taking proper care of it is important. One of the most important things you can do for the overall efficiency of the vehicle is to have the oil changed when it is recommended. The oil is needed to help lubricate parts of the engine. If there is a lack of oil, parts will start to wear against each other. This can cause unnecessary friction and strain as well. The old and dirty oil can be removed from the vehicle. It will then be replaced with new clean oil. The oil filter is designed to capture dirt and other contaminants that are in the oil. Over time the filter will become clogged. By changing the oil regularly, you can help to ensure the cleanest oil possible is able to lubricate the engine and parts.


Noise under the hood


When driving, make sure to notice any sounds that might come from under the hood. If there is a squealing noise, it could mean that a belt is loose. If a belt snaps, other parts of the engine could be affected. Other noises like a screeching or other sounds could indicate parts are wearing incorrectly. Any noise out of the norm should be inspected as soon as possible. This helps prevents issues from happening to other parts under the hood like the engine. If the dashboard warning lights come on, you should bring it in.

Regular maintenance


You will also want to make sure that your vehicle is brought in on a regular basis for maintenance inspections. By doing this, you can make sure that the parts are working at top performance and efficiently with one another. Ignoring an issue for your vehicle may mean that further wear and tear happens to it, as well as damage to the parts. If you are not sure how often to have the vehicle inspected, you can contact us and we can advise you on the right schedule.

Windshield Wipers are Important

Replacing windshield wipers regularly is integral to safe driving. Typically, you should get new ones every six months, although the best ones, often made from silicone, can last indefinitely. If you notice an issue with the windshield wipers, make sure to replace them as soon as possible. Cold and freezing temperatures can crack and split the rubber blades, and can weaken and degrade the blades’ integrity. Over the course of time, dirt and debris can build up. The spring tension on the wiper arms will loosen. Finally, wipers just wear out with regular use.

New blades have a crisp, clean edge that slides evenly across your windshield without leaving streaks. To extend the time between windshield wiper replacements, here are some things you can do keep your wiper blades in good shape. If there is an issue with how your windshield wipers are working, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible so that we can inspect the windshield wipers for you.

In freezing temperatures, put the wiper arms up when the vehicle’s parked outside. That will prevent them from getting stuck to the windshield. If you forget, turn on the defroster and clean the windshield’s ice and snow. Do not try to chisel the blades free and don’t smack them against the windshield, unless you also want to replace or repair a broken windshield.

When buying wiper blades, measure both old ones, as the lengths usually differ. Use the measurements when you look up your vehicle’s make and model so you can select the right blades. If you have a back window, don’t forget it.

Some blades even leave a hydrophobic layer on your windshield to repel water. The ultimate option, silicone blades, can last the life of your vehicle. If you are not sure what type of windshield wipers to buy for your vehicle, make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can advise you on them. We can also check the condition of your wipers to ensure they work properly and efficient.

Inspecting Tires is Important


When you own a car, inspecting tires regularly is important for the overall performance and safety of your vehicle. The tires are the only part of the vehicle that makes contact with the surface of the road, so you will want them to be in as ideal of condition as possible. If you start to notice that the vehicle pulls in a certain direction, the tires could cause it. Remember to check the tread, air pressure, and condition of the tires on a regular basis. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can inspect the tires for you.



You should always set your tires to the pressure specified in your vehicle’s owner manual or tire information placard. If you drive on the tires when they are under inflated, it can lead to damage to the tire, and risk damaging the rims. Over inflated tires are more prone to picking up sharp objects like a nail on the road.


Remember to check and adjust your tire pressure first thing in the morning before driving on them. Temperature differences affect your tire pressure. Cold winter weather may cause your pressure to drop. Although you should check your tire pressure periodically as part of good vehicle maintenance, it is exceptionally important to check it when the season changes.

Always check your tires with a good quality tire pressure gauge. Many vehicles come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. Generally, this system will alert you if your tires are losing air or are below the recommended pressure. You should never try to visually estimate your tires inflation pressure. We recommend keeping a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment, even if you have a TPMS built into your vehicle, as sometimes the system could fail. This will ensure you are getting a consistent reading each time rather than using multiple gauges at different gas or service stations.

Overinflated tires are rigid and stiff causing the tire’s contact patch to be reduced. That leads to a harder ride as well as uneven tread wear. The most common type of uneven tread wear due to over inflation is referred to as center wear. Exactly what it sounds like, the center of the tire will be smooth and worn down while there will be more tread on the sides of the tire. Due to the rigidity of an overinflated tire, it can be more easily damaged by everyday road hazards such as potholes and imperfections in the road.

Underinflated tires do not hold their shape and are flatter to the ground. Therefore, more of the tire comes in contact with the road, causing the shoulders of the tire to wear prematurely. That is referred to as shoulder wear. There will be a strip of normal tread down the center of the tire while the shoulders of the tire will be smooth and worn down. Underinflated tires are more flexible when they roll, leading to increased rolling resistance and therefore a decrease in fuel economy. If the tires can no longer hold the correct amount of air, then they will need to be replaced. If you notice an issue with the tires, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible, so we can inspect it for you.


Brake System Issues to be Aware of

The brake system is often overlooked and taken for granted until you have a significant problem on your hands. When it comes to the most important safety mechanism on your vehicle, letting problems go until that system no longer functions properly is a recipe for disaster. Don’t ignore the warning signs of impending brake failure, keep your braking system functioning at its peak performance.

A soft, spongy feel in the brake pedal is a sure sign of a problem in the hydraulic system. Issues such as air in the lines, failing calipers or wheel cylinders or a weak flex line can feel soft when you hit the pedal. Your brake pedal should be firm and the brakes should feel solid and apply gradually. When the pedal is soft and spongy, your braking system is likely to fail soon. It could be as simple as needing more fluid in the master cylinder.

Once you wear through the actual friction material on the pads, you are grinding metal on metal, which is a bad. If you hear noises when you hit the brake pedal, you likely have a mechanical issue with the braking system. Grinding is a metal on metal sound that means the brake pads are worn out and the base pad is grinding on the rotor. Inspecting the brake system should never be overlooked.

If the rotors are worn, the result can manifest as pulling to one side when the brakes are pressed. This is because the brakes are grabbing harder on one side. The same can happen if the one side is not grabbing at all. As you press the brake pedal, all both left and right sides of the brake system apply equally. If there is an issue with one side, then your vehicle will pull to one side as you use the brakes. This could be a simple adjustment, but most likely the brakes are wearing more on one side than the other. A failing wheel cylinder or caliper will result in uneven wear and application of the brakes. Another issue is worn rotors eating up the pads and grabbing or slipping.

Maintaining the Engine


The engine is the main part of the vehicle. It is the control center for just about everything the vehicle does and helps it to keep running. To help keep the vehicle running efficiently and effectively, you will need to bring it in for regular maintenances.


There are a variety of different fluids that go into the engine to keep it running at its top performance. The oil is crucial to everything running smoothly and is used by just about every system located under the hood, so it should be emptied and replaced by its recommended schedule. The coolant should be changed twice a year at the very least in order to prevent build-up of dirt and contaminants. This is crucial since your vehicle uses combustion to perform, and if the coolant is not functioning properly the vehicle itself can overheat quite easily. The vehicle also has transmission fluid that helps create friction within the engine. As the vehicle runs, this fluid warms up and begins to oxidize, causing it to lose those crucial characteristics.



Sometimes engine parts will deteriorate, whether due to lack of care or environmental circumstances. Rusted metal can deteriorate rather quickly, especially when put through the strain that the engine puts on most of its parts. Something as simple as a hole worn into the side of a tube can cause a drastic change in the performance of the engine. This will cause it to stop functioning entirely. A hole can cause a leak of vital fluids or release necessary pressure for the engine to run.



Many people store their vehicles for long periods of time, either due to changing season or because they are going away on vacation. When this is done there are certain precautions one should take to keep the vehicle working at its best when it is taken out. Make sure all the tanks are full of fresh fluids. This includes the oil, coolant, antifreeze, transmission fluid, and that there is still some gas in the tank. To keep the engine running properly someone should stop by once a month, or even every two months, to turn the vehicle on and let it run for a short period of time. This allows the engine to keep from growing stagnant and helps locate any problems that might have developed.

Signs that New Windshield Wipers are Needed


The windshield wipers help to clear away rain, or any other debris that might be on the windshield. This can help improve the visibility as you drive. Part of making sure the wipers are able to work efficiently is also make sure the wiper fluid is in good condition. Make sure to fill the wiper fluid reservoir to the amount specified on it. Doing this before any long trip you may take can help to ensure you will have enough. The wiper fluid also helps to wash away any debris or grime that may be on the windshield. The wipers themselves should be checked regularly and replaced at least once a year. While we can inspect them to tell you the condition they are in, there can also be signs you will notice if they need replacing.



When you turn on the windshield wipers, you may notice the wipers smearing water in both directions. This could be a sign of worn wiper blades as they travel across the windshield. It may also indicate a dirty windshield with not enough water to clear it away effectively. You can use the washer fluid to clean the windshield and have the wipers clear it away. If smear marks still remain there, it may be time to replace the blades. New blades can help ensure a clear view while you drive.



In colder temperatures, there may be an increase in water smearing of the windshield. It could mean that the windshield wipers have become old and hard. The wipers could also be the wrong size for your vehicle. If there is constant smearing on the windshield, it is recommended that you replace the windshield wipers. You may also need to replace the windshield wipers if you notice beads of water that will not wipe away. This problem usually occurs when an area is high in pollution. The residue and grime that builds up on the windshield will cause water beads to stick to it. Cleaning the windshield thoroughly can help prevent this issue. If it continues over time however, you might need to replace the wipers.



If you hear the wipers vibrating or chatting against the windshield, it means that water is not getting wiped away efficiently. There could be an issue with a bent wiper arm, which makes the connection to the windshield less effective. The blade arms should be parallel to the glass to result in the wipers being efficient. The noise may be from the wiper blade being frozen or having ice on it. Allow it some time to warm up with the defroster, and the noise should stop. Most issues with the wipers can be solved by replacing them, as a majority of the time it is from a worn or damaged wiper blade. Make sure to replace the windshield wipers on a regular basis. It is recommended to replace them at least once a year. Even if you hardly use them, they can be damaged from the sun beating down on them.

Inspecting the Tires for Proper Condition



The first thing to check is the air pressure. Under inflated tires wear out faster, create more heat, increase fuel consumption, and make your vehicle more difficult to handle. Tires that are over inflated can also wear out quicker, be more prone to picking up sharp objects on the surface of the road, and make the vehicle unsafe to handle. If you are not sure if the tires are inflated correctly, bring the vehicle in and we can inspect the tires for you.


Also inspect each tire. Look for things that may be embedded in the tires. Look for nails, stones, or other debris that could be embedded in the tread. If you hear a hissing sound when you pull out a nail, push it back in quickly and bring the vehicle in as soon as possible so we can inspect and fix the tire. If you notice a tire goes flat on a consistent basis, there could be something that has punctured the tire. Take some soapy water and cover the tire. Look for any bubbles made by the escaping air.


Also look at the sidewalls of each tire. Check for deeply scuffed or worn areas, bulges, or bubbles. The tires should fit evenly and snugly around the wheel rims. Also check the tread of each tire. Place a penny upside down into the groove between the treads. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tires may need to be replaced. You can also use a thin ruler in the tread to measure the distance. The tread should be more than one sixteenth of an inch deep. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can properly inspect the condition of the tires for you. This will help you to have safe and reliable tires when you drive. If the tires need to be aligned, rotated, or inflated, we can do so for you. We can also inspect them for any puncture marks or wear that they might have. By fixing the tires at the sign of an issue, you can help to save time, money, and stress in the long run.


The Benefits of Regular Maintenance






One of the biggest benefits for having regular maintenance done is that it can help improve the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. A vehicle that is well maintained can run better. By following the schedule to change the oil, the engine can run as it is designed to do. Parts of the engine can become lubricated which can also help it to run smoothly. Having the proper oil in your vehicle can also help to lower maintenance costs. A vehicle that is properly maintained can help ensure that the parts and components are working the way that they should be. This will reduce the amount of strain and stress they cause, which also decreases the amount of fuel that would be used. If you notice that the fuel mileage is poor, bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you.





When regular maintenance is done on your vehicle, you can help to improve the lifespan of it. This can reduce wear and tear on the vehicle. By checking the fluid levels, tire pressure, lights, and brakes, the vehicle’s life can be extended. If you start to notice an issue with the vehicle, bring it in as soon as possible. This can reduce the chance of parts causing strain with one another and leading to a further issue. Regular maintenances now can help prevent more costly repairs in the future.





Another benefit of having the vehicle maintained is that you can improve the safety level. We can inspect the parts thoroughly to ensure that everything is as safe as it should be. This can help prevent an unexpected breakdown when you would least expect it. The tires can be inspected to help reduce the chance that they go flat at an inconvenient time. If you notice the vehicle pulling in one direction or another, bring it in as soon as you can. This could indicate an issue with the tires or alignment. If you notice an issue, make sure to contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.  


Why you Should Not Ignore Engine Issues



The best way to handle engine repairs is to make sure you bring the vehicle in at the first sign of an issue. We will inspect the vehicle, and look at the engine and under the hood. Get into the habit of getting any strange noise or experience checked out as soon as you can after hearing it or experiencing it. Sometimes it may not seem as if the noise is detracting from the smooth running of the vehicle. You just never know what is going on underneath the hood. It is better to get it checked out and to be told there is nothing wrong than to leave it and find you have left something that could easily have been fixed, but which is now more expensive.



There are various repairs that might be needed. Fluid leaks can occur from different parts of the engine and are easily spotted if you check under your car every time you pull away from a parking space. Timing chains can also pose problems and make noises if work needs to be done. Sometimes a replacement part is required, whereas other times something might just need adjusting. The worst-case scenario is a complete engine replacement, but if you take good care of it and check out any potential problems before they have a chance to escalate into something worse, you should not find yourself in this position.



As you can see, it makes sense to be better safe than sorry when it comes to engine repairs. It is tempting to ignore them but you will be doing so at the chance of potential and costly peril later on. Major engine problems are always a lot more expensive than minor ones. If you have an older vehicle, you might even find it is not worth getting the major repairs done. A minor engine repair could be all that is needed to keep your vehicle on the road for a long time to come, so look after it and remember to keep an ear out for any unusual noises.

Check the Tires thoroughly for any issues



One of the most important things to check in the tires is the air pressure. The correct amount of air pressure that is needed for the tires can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual. The correct amount can also be found on the inside of the driver’s door. It is important to check all four tires regularly for the amount of air pressure that is in them. If a tire is under inflated, it could lead to a blowout. The tire will also start to wear unevenly when you operate. If the tire is over inflated, it will have less contact with the surface of the road. This can lead to poor handling when you drive. The tire can also be more prone to picking up sharp objects that are in the road.



The tread of the tires should also be inspected. The tread is important because it helps to grip and handle the road as you drive. If the tread is worn down, it may make handling when driving more difficult. If the roads are wet or slippery, the tread of the tire should be the best possible. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can inspect the tires and tread for you. We can also alert you for if you need to invest in a new set of tires. Also check to ensure the tread is wearing evenly around each tire. If one spot is more worn down than another, it could mean there is a problem with the alignment of the tires.



The tires should also be checked to make sure they are wearing effectively. If there are any cracks or puncture marks in the tire, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible. Also check for any bald or flat spots where part of the tire may be worn down. If one spot wears quicker than another, it could mean a more serious issue than just with the tires. By bringing the vehicle in we can inspect the tires for you. We can also check the alignment of the tires. When recommended, we can also rotate them so they can last as long as possible.

Noticing an Issue with the Transmission


The transmission of your vehicle is essential for proper function. It allows you to switch gears and run the vehicle. A transmission is an assembly of parts that allows power to be sent from a power source that drives the vehicle. Some transmissions use gears and a clutch to covert the speed of the vehicle. Transmissions are needed because it helps regulate the maximum RPM in which the engine can go without damaging the part and exploding. The RPM range depicts the amount and horsepower and torque needed for the vehicle to work properly.


An automatic transmission is the simplest form of transmission in that there is no clutch pedal or gear shifting needed to operate the vehicle. However, transmissions are one of the most important and complex pieces of your vehicle. The automatic transmission’s primary job is to allow the engine to operate in a narrow range of speeds while providing a wide range of output speeds. Once the vehicle is put into drive, it is ready to be driven and no further shifting is needed. This is unless reverse or park is required, because manual transmissions change gears without driver input.


Manual transmissions are more difficult to operate because of the clutch and gear operating system. Most manual vehicles use a five-speed transmission that applies one of five different gear ratios to the input shaft to produce a different RPM value. In order to know when you should shift gears, you should pay attention to the RPM on the dashboard. Once the RPM reaches a certain number that is when you will know to push down on the clutch and use the shifter to move the gear up or down. This allows the vehicle to stay at the appropriate RPM for the speed in which you are driving.


Replacing a transmission can become extremely costly. That is why it is important to pay close attention to the signs of your transmission going bad before it is too late. If you notice any odd noises when the vehicle shifts gears, schedule an appointment to bring the vehicle in. We can inspect the vehicle and under the hood for any damage that it might have. We will specifically pay attention to any red color in the transmission fluid. If the transmission fluid is cloudy, muddy or has a burnt smell to it, this means that the fluid should be changed. If you feel vibrations or jerks when you are shifting gears, this can mean that your vehicle is low on transmission fluid and should be looked at. Any type of grinding noise coming from under the floorboards is a concern and can indicate a major problem. Also, when switching gears if you notice an unexpected delay this is yet another sign of a failing transmission. Bring the vehicle in, and you will know what the issue may be.

What to know about the Gaskets


The engine in your vehicle is among the most important things you should pay attention to. If you notice anything unusual from the engine, you should bring the vehicle in as soon as possible. After all, without the engine, there is no possibility that you will be able to drive down the road. There are a few different things that you can do in order to accomplish this. Among the often ignored items that you need is gaskets. These provide a seal, which allows engines to not leak fluids and also helps in making sure that the engine will not release any kinds of vapors it needs to maintain pressure. If any lights illuminate on the dashboard when you drive, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as you can so we can check for the source of the issue. This may even include checking the gaskets in your vehicle. The kinds of gaskets you will need will depend on where you are using them. Those which hold in engine bearings will differ greatly from those being used near the cams. It is important to make sure that they are installed correctly. This will help in making sure that your engine will work properly at all times.




When there is an issue, it is important to know what kind of gaskets you will need to replace them with. While many will be made out of a high-grade rubber, there are others, which are made from steel or aluminum. The idea is to get the gasket which will properly create the tight seal between the two components. This will help in making sure that the fluids are kept running from one location to another without any hassles. These work by forming to the two pieces which are being joined together and creating a tight seal which nothing will be able to pass through.




After purchasing the gaskets, make sure to schedule an appointment and bring the vehicle in so we can change them for you. Having them installed properly is important because if you have it off just slightly upon installation it can ruin the gasket and create a bad seal. Many will only be able to be used once. This means that any mistakes are highly costly. We can replace the gaskets so your vehicle is back to being safe and reliable again. Anytime there is an issue, it should be inspected as soon as possible in order to help prevent further problems from developing.



Your Brakes should be Inspected Regularly



There are a number of signs that can predict when brake repair will be needed. The most common ones are the easiest to detect. A steering wheel that wiggles could be a sign of brake problems. If the steering wheel jiggles back and forth every time you come to a stop, then this is a sign of worn out brake rotors. Brake rotors do not need to be changed as often as brake pads, but should still be replaced every few years. It is suggested to have your brake rotors changed every three times your brake pads are replaced. When it comes to brake pads, another observable sign of brake damage is high pitched squeaking. When your vehicle squeals anytime you apply pressure to the brake pedal, this could be an indication of bad brake pads. The squeaking sound comes from a piece on the actual brake pad that gets exposed once the pad is worn down enough. When this indicator is exposed, it is time to replace the pads.



Most brake repairs involve work related to the brake’s main parts, ranging from the master cylinder and brake lines to the brake pads, rotors, and calipers. The master cylinder is normally reliable and experiences few malfunctions but they can develop internal leaks. When left unattended, the leak can cause the brake pedal to work intermittently or fail altogether. A warning light on your dashboard will alert you if your master cylinder has failed. Healthy brake fluid is clear or slightly yellow in color. If you notice the fluid has turned dark or is dirty, ask your mechanic to change the brake fluid. Brake lines are composed of steel tubes and rubber hoses, and they provide a way for brake fluid to travel from the master cylinder to the wheels.



An emergency or parking brake is used in the event of a failure of the regular brakes. However, the parking brake is most commonly used when parking on a steep hill to prevent the car from rolling. When the emergency brakes fail, the probable cause is that the rubber hose that covers the brake cable has deteriorated. When this happens, the metal cable rusts rapidly and eventually breaks. If you notice that your emergency brake cable is broken, replace the brake immediately. Also be aware of anything out of the norm with your vehicle. If you notice something, make sure to schedule an appointment so we can look at it as soon as possible for you.


Service Area

St. Paul
Inver Grove Heights
Cottage Grove
Mendota Heights

Contact Info

1095 Highway 110
Inver Grove Heights,
MN 55077

Working Hours

Monday-Thursday: 7a.m. – 6p.m.
Friday: 7a.m. – 5p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED