Lower Temps and Ol’ Man Winter

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Temperatures are dropping so it’s time to prepare for Old Man Winter

You already know that with colder temperatures comes a lot of excess wear and tear on your vehicle. The quick drop in temperatures effects every aspect of your vehicle. From oil viscosity, to coolant freeze protection, tire pressures, the crankcase ventilation system, battery reserve and more, it is always a good idea to have your vehicle inspected for signs of problems in these high risk areas. At Baltimore Bimmer, we’re in our 7th winter season and now is the time where we discuss, as a team, what we expect to see coming up in the next few months:

The No Start
The failure of your vehicle to start in the morning is common due to an insufficiently charged battery. If you’re taking short trips to the local store and your commute to work is only 5 miles away, you may want to consider coming in for a battery check. You may think that everything is OK now, but it is possible that if you’re battery is lacking in reserve capacity, irreparable damage can occur to the integrated circuits within the numerous sensitive computers in your vehicle. The high amperage kick back from a starter that has insufficient voltage to complete a startup can be expensively damaging to your sensitive electronics.
Jump starting only makes matters worse. In the event you need to jump start your vehicle NEVER attempt to start your BMW with another vehicle connected to your car. This could cause ac voltages to occur at the onset of startup which will cause damage to those sensitive electronics. Read your owners manual before jumping your vehicle and follow the instructions TO THE LETTER!

Oil Viscosity
It is important to understand that cold oil is not ready to be circulated quickly through an engine. We tell a lot of our customers to drive their vehicles hard, to promote higher oil pressures which is good for these cars. The exception to this rule is when the vehicle is not at operating temperature. Be gentle on the gas when your car is cold and a little heavier on the gas pedal once it is warmed up. Also, for you that like to start your car and let it sit in the driveway and warm up, this is a not advisable and I strongly encourage you to stop that practice. In the event that your auxiliary electric fan is not working ( a common problem) you could potentially overheat your engine while you’re inside making that cup of coffee for your morning commute. Also, if you take short trips, your battery is NOT sufficiently charging at engine idle speed. The best practice is to go out when ready to travel, start the engine and immediately start driving, albeit gently.

The Crankcase Vent Valve
This little bugger can go from just fine and behaving well, to hydro-locking your engine in 10 seconds flat. The crankcase vent system prevents the excess pressure on the opposite side of the piston during combustion form blowing out the oil seals on your engine. It is designed to regulate suction in the crankcase to about 2-3 in/H2O of pressure. Think barometric pressure. 30in/hg(HG stands for Mercury) is a nice day,whereas 28 in/HG, is a bloody hurricane like a category 5. If the suction goes above 6″ of H2O, it needs to be replaced. There are no obvious signs that you could recognize when it is sucking at 6-7 in/H2O. If you hear a loud WOOOOOOO kind of like an owl on steroids, whoing under your hood, chances are you have an issue. If you notice huge plumes of thick white smoke pouring from your exhaust, IMMEDIATELY SHUT OFF YOUR ENGINE AND CALL A TOW TRUCK. Those words aren’t capitalized for no reason. It’s the difference between a 5-700 dollar repair and a 6-10,000 dollar repair. Now explaining the where, and how and theory of operation of the CCV is a long dissertation, so here’s a link if you’re truly interested.

The rest of the things mentioned above I would consider common sense issues. Well, common sense for a technician. If you have any questions about those things, please feel free to call me at the shop. I am always happy to talk to and educate customers as to the complex operation of the modern automobile and sometimes office work drives me crazy and your call would probably be a great reason to procrastinate from the piles of mundane paperwork.

Thanks so much for reading this short article and I wish everyone safe and smooth driving.