If your car has been sitting for the summer at your condo or home, it’s likely that you’ve returned to a car that is sleeping and won’t wake up. Many things can go wrong, but these are the first suspects.
Common problems for customers returning for the winter often involve electronics in cars that are continually draining battery. Sophisticated electronics have a parasitic draw. If your car won’t wake up, it’s probably because the battery is now dead. Even if you disconnected your battery, sometimes they just commit suicide. Due to the hot, humid weather, batteries age faster in our climate and only have a life expectancy of approximately 2-3 years. This is why it’s important to have quality batteries installed in your car that are the proper size and rating. Junk (cheap) batteries can junk computers and lead to other starting problems. You can also have a cut-off switch installed before you head back up north which will help to eliminate this problem. (More about putting your car to sleep at a later date)
If your car is dead, jump-starting and letting your engine run to charge your battery is not a good idea. Contrary to popular belief, alternators are not designed to be battery chargers. A very expensive modern alternator will overwork and overheat itself charging a dead battery…. now you’re faced with a much higher bill. If your battery is dead, put a battery charger on it or have it towed to a repair facility on the Island to have it properly charged and tested.
What if your car is cranking and not starting? It may have fallen victim to phase separation and water-laden fuel. Crank, no start, can be caused by the ethanol in gasoline that can absorb its weight in moisture and create a tank with 10% water rather than 10% ethanol. This problem has dramatically increased in the past few years and can lead to a failed fuel pump and more. The best solution is to have a tow truck tow your vehicle to an Island shop so that a certified technician can diagnose what’s going on.
Let’s talk tires. When you come south, you may find your tires to be lumpy, bumpy, or dry rotted. Heat and sun really take a toll on the life of tires. If your tires are low on air or flat, immediately visit one of your Marco facilities and have them inflated with air or nitrogen. If the tire is flat, don’t drive on the flat or underinflated tire. This can cause further problems. (More on tires at a later date)
If you’re A/C doesn’t seem as cool as it was when you left in the spring, this could be due to normal Freon loss. Freon naturally leaks in small quantities. It might be a good idea to swing by an Island shop and have them run a system check and service for your A/C.
Are your wiper blades working? They too may have died this summer. Wiper blades are especially important with all of the rain we are getting. Check them and make sure they’re not stuck to the windshield or wiping and streaking sand and dirt across the glass.
Once you get your car and have it running, have it checked out. Things can happen that you’re not aware of when it is sitting and a good car equals mobility and safety for a good Season!
Keith Pershing and Tim Gorman are both ASE Certified Master Technicians with a combined experience of over 70 years. Tim has been on the Island since 1992 with his wife, two daughters and son. Keith moved to the Island in 1972 and lives here with his wife, two daughters and son. Both Gorman’s Auto Service Center and Island Automotive are family-owned and operated auto repair facilities with high customer satisfaction for 20 years and more. Tim and Keith offer friendly, personal, hands-on advice and remain active in our community. If you have a question for Tim and Keith please feel free to email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions are appreciated and will be answered in future articles. Thanks