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The Lost Columnist’s Guide: Here it is. Winter!

Credit: John Gusky | The Texas State Capitol in the snow. Photo by KVUE's John Gusky

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The Lost Columnist’s Guide: Here it is. Winter!

The Lost Columnist’s Guide:

Here it is. Winter!


Or at least winter as we know it. The daytime highs for the next 7-10 days won’t likely exceed 50 degrees. But the nights will drop below freezing; in some cases, well below freezing. And remain there for hours. Yessiree Bob, that’s winter here in Central Texas. And in a pandemic, no less. So forget that hangin’ out at the picnic tables at the local brew house, safely distanced from your friends. Find a safely-distanced friend you’ve been hangin’ with the past few months and build a fire.

But don’t forget your ride. Assuming you have a garage, you probably can skip the rest of this, unless you want to remember those good(?) pre-garage ownership times.

Two things. Maybe three.

If you’re like me, you roll around Texas with more water than window washer solvent in your windshield wiper reservoir for most of the year. And that’s OK! But not this week. This week, you need solvent in there. So just run down to your local auto parts store and get some window washer solvent, good to say, zero degrees. Then simply run the wipers in your car until you run out of water. You don’t have to overdo it. Once it starts to spurt and sputter, you’re good. Now fill the reservoir with the fresh window washer solvent and you’re good to go! Hot damn! Am I ready for winter? Not quite yet. But close!  

I know that some of you might be reading this after the windshield washer jets are  already frozen. I know this because it happened to me years ago, when I left Austin one 78-degree morning in January and ended up in Vail Colorado that very same night. So if it does happen to you, just get a safety pin or sewing needle or paper clip and carefully clear the jet. Then follow the instructions above to empty the reservoir of water and refill with the appropriate window washer solvent.  

Check you’re coolant and coolant level. We used to refer to this coolant as ant-freeze. Whatever you want to call it, make sure you have enough. There’s a hot fill level marker and a cold fill level marker on the reservoir. And there are different coolants out there. Get the appropriate one. If in doubt, your local auto parts outlet or dealership is there to help you. You don’t need to schedule an appointment, just pop into the dealership’s parts department and they will get you set up correctly. That’s what they’re there for!

This last one can be a little tricky. If you see your low tire pressure warning light come on when it’s really cold outside, you may just be experiencing science in action. Nitrogen-filled tires are better than air-filled tires at avoiding low tire pressures, but the easiest way to determine if your tire(s) is/are actually low is to check all of them. Then, if only one is low, you will know that you likely have a problem with that one tire. If all four, (or six, if you’re running duallys…), the cold air has probably reduced all your tire pressures. You just need to go fill them back up. 

It goes without saying that you should not try and defrost your windshield by throwing hot water onto it, but I’m going to say it anyway: Don’t throw hot water onto your cold windshield! 

Streets will probably be icy. Bridges and overpasses will be slick. Other drivers will probably not be as good as you are! So be careful out there. Drive accordingly. Expect the unexpected. Watch for ice on the road. 

And this from txHomeandGarden! Finally, bring in the plants, the domesticated animals, and anything else you think might just freeze. And finally, Enjoy Winter! It usually only comes once-a-year here. And this coming week is our shot.

Alan Pease

Alan Pease is our Central Texas correspondent. He covers state and local government, as well as racing events at the Circuit of the Americas. His articles have appeared in Autoweek, txGarage.com and Automotive News. Prior to joining our staff, Alan produced automotive and motorcycle press introductions for BMW, MINI, Aston Martin, Jaguar and GM. Alan lives in Austin; you can reach him at thelostcolumnist@gmail.com.

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