Tire Tracks

The winds are a blowin’

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As I sit here writing, I look out my office window and see golden bushes and blazing red trees. There is only a mere hint of green poking out beneath the fallen Locust tree leaves. This is the time of year that we cherish for the crispness in the air, the beautiful colors of the trees, and the lack of bugs on our grills and windshields.  It is the last chance for those long drives in our beloved classics before they are tucked away for a long winter’s slumber.

For many of us who do not have the privilege of living in a perpetually warm climate, Old Man Winter is knocking at our door. We feel a major let down knowing that our fun has come to an end for the next 5-7 months. For those of you who do not know the displeasure of the northern winter’s uncertainty, let me describe the annual procedure. It is not a matter of if it is going to be cold, or if there is going to be snow. Those two things are a certainty. How long and brutal will the cold be? How much snow will we get?  These are the real questions we ask. There could be snow on the ground as soon as the end of October and as late as early May – yuck! It is always fun to consult the “Farmer’s Almanac” and make bets on how accurate its predictions were.

In the North, winters are a part of life. Many look forward to snowmobiling, ice fishing, and skiing, but those of us who live to drive our cars deal with the changing of the season in two ways. The first way to accept winter is to winterize your vehicle and tuck it away where it will be safe and warm. A good car cover, battery tender and some fuel stabilizer and it’s good night until spring. We go on our merry way plowing through snowdrifts and skating away on icy roadways. All the while letting our daily drivers (or winter beaters) take the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury and the onslaught of ravenous road salt.

The second option is to own a heated work area. Winter is the time to get major projects done on your car. Summer seems to fade away all too quickly and your car’s nagging ailments seem to get overlooked in lieu of enjoying the fleeting warm weather. Winter provides the perfect opportunity to address all these nuisances. Perhaps it’s time to freshen up the engine or transmission. Maybe your car has an off idle stumble and your carburetor is due for a rebuild. Spongy brakes – get to bleeding them. Now is the time to make your car perform the way it was meant to.

For those not fortunate enough to have a heated garage, I can only offer my sympathy. I know I can only tough it out to about 15- 20 degrees for about an hour before I have to call it quits. Perhaps there are those of you out there who can take the cold. If you can, I tip my hat to you.

The longer nights lend themselves to working in the garage because lets face it — it’s cold, it’s dark, and there isn’t much to do for a car enthusiast in the snow.

I do offer one concerned warning to those of you working on your cars throughout the winter. Please do it safely and make sure there is enough ventilation. Portable heaters are extremely inefficient and give off their fair share of carbon monoxide. A suggestion is to buy a fairly cheep (under $25 online) carbon monoxide monitor and bring it with you while you are working on your car. Carbon monoxide is odorless and is not to be taken lightly.  We spend so much money on our cars it just makes sense to spend a little more on ourselves to make sure we are around to enjoy them.

To those of you who are still driving your classics year round, I am somewhat jealous. There is some consolation to the rest of us who have to persevere through the winter. The feeling starts setting in around the middle of March. Spring is not as distant of a thought anymore. Your mind starts to shift towards thoughts of the open road and the anticipation builds. It is an odd feeling. Your reacquaintance with your old car makes it feel fresh and new all over again.

So when the winds start to howl and the temperature drops below zero, take solace that spring is just around the corner. Before you know it warm days and shorter nights will once again be the norm.

Keep wrenching!

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