Did You Know . . . ?

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As with software (and hardware) every now and again, it’s necessary to do an update. Same goes for automotive knowledge. Maybe a better term would be conventional wisdom. Things change – and new things come along.

For instance:

A lot of people still assume that 28-32 pounds of air in a tire is about right. It was about right… 20 years ago. And while there are still vehicles that have tires that want 28-32 pounds of air in them (most of these are trucks with M/S-rated tires) it is very common for car tire pressures to be in the 40-45 psi range nowadays. 32-ish pounds would be grossly under-inflated, in that case. The tires will wear faster (as well as unevenly) the car will not stop as quickly, handling will become sloppier – and rolling resistance will increase, meaning poorer fuel economy. And your tire pressure monitor – if your car is equipped with this – may not let you know until the tires are really low on air. Even if you have a tire pressure monitoring system, it’s important – if you care about tire longevity, braking distances, handling and fuel economy – to manually check the air pressure in all four tires at least once a month. And if they’re down, inflate them to the specified pressure – not what you remember from the ’70s as being “about right.”

. . . .

Intermittent wipers are murder on wiper blades. Sounds silly, right? Wouldn’t intermittent wipers – which cycle less often – reduce wear on the wiper blades? Sure. Except when you have one cycle left in the system before you shut down for the night – on a cold winter night.

Let me explain.

You’ve just rolled to a stop in the driveway and are about to shut the engine off and head inside. But you haven’t turned off the wipers first – and let them complete their cycle – before you kill the ignition. Next morning when you go to start the car – and there’s a frozen film (or ice and snow) on the windshield – the next thing that will happen after you turn the key (or push the start button) is the wiper motor will try to cycle the blades… which may be frozen to the windshield. This places extreme strain on the electric motor that drives the windshield wipers, as well as extreme wear on the wiper blade edges, as they’re literally torn loose (or jerked hard trying to break loose). And if the blades cycle back and forth a few times over ice/snow-encrusted windshield glass, they’ll lose their edge real quick – and smear more than clear.

To avoid this – and to get the most life out of not-cheap windshield wiper blades – turn the wipers off (and let them cycle to the “down” position) before you turn off the car’s engine and shut her down for the night. Next morning, scrape clean the windshield before you turn on the wipers.

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