You don’t have to be a fan of “Game of Thrones” to understand the headline on this page. Those of us in SW Lake County know full well that October is a good time to get our vehicles ready for winter weather. We turned to Mark Wolfe, owner of John’s Complete Auto Service in Wauconda, for some advice before winter comes.
SW Lake Lifestyle: What should readers start doing to get their vehicles ready?
Mark Wolfe: “We see such a range of winter driving issues around here. Heavy snow. Icy roads. Reduced daylight. It all adds up to the potential for some treacherous conditions. My recommendations on what to do to get ready starts with tires. Inspect the tread, do the “penny test” and if your tread is low I can practically guarantee at some point this winter you will find yourself ‘slip-sliding away.’
“It’s also very important to make sure your battery can handle the change in temperature we experience. The lower the temperature gets, the more power you need to start a car. But here’s the problem, cold is a battery’s enemy because it robs power. So just when you need power most, winter robs it from your battery.
“Please make sure to keep your windshield washer tank full with fluid that’s rated for this area of the country. You’ll thank me on that first really sloppy day. Are your wiper blades ready for replacement? You’ll thank me about that, too.
“Also on your checklist should be an oil change, a check of your engine coolant (yes, even in winter), swap out of filters, troubleshooting lights and bulbs, a check of the heater and defroster and a few other odds and ends. Tending to all of this early before the first snow means you’ll be ready when winter comes.”
SWL: Why is proper air pressure in tires so important?
MW: “Maintaining proper tire pressure is important for several reasons. The most critical is safety. Over-inflated means a tire is actually making less contact with the road and wearing out the center of the tread. Under-inflated means too much contact is being made because the shoulders of the tires are in contact with the road and wearing out too quickly. Properly maintained tires last longer and help improve fuel economy. Tires that are inflated to the right pressure also provide a nicer ride and stand up better to potholes and other winter driving hazards.”
SWL: What are the typical reasons for a “Check Engine” light going on?
MW: “There’s a number of reasons why the Check Engine light comes on. One reason in particular is easy to check: was your gas cap replaced correctly after the last fill-up? Other typical reasons for the Check Engine light have to do with catalytic converters and sensors so it makes sense to bring your car to a professional repair shop for a complete inspection.”
SWL: What’s your dream car?
MW: “1970 Pontiac GTO. That was the year that the GTO—under the leadership of John DeLorean—maxed out on power. Truth is, I loved the muscle car era of the late 60s and early 70s. I learned to drive in my aunt’s 1966 Le Mans, the car that morphed into a GTO.”
SWL: How’d you get started in this business?
MW: “I got started in high school. While in college at Illinois State I got a job in a repair shop in Bloomington and you could say my passion for cars bloomed (bad pun, I know). After moving back here I worked for other owners in a couple places, but knew one day I needed to have my own place. When John’s became available in 2015 my wife, Amy, and I were able to put together the financing to buy out the owner who had operated the business for years. I’m really proud to carry on the legacy of excellent service for a fair price with my team of knowledgeable mechanics.”
About the Author: Mark Wolfe owns John’s Complete Auto Service, 221 S. Main St., Wauconda; open Monday – Friday. To learn more go to johnsonmain.com.