GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — With temperatures warming up and winter yielding to spring, community members may want to consider de-winterizing privately owned vehicles across U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria.
While community members in Grafenwoehr, Vilseck and Hohenfels might be able to change their vehicles' winter tires to summer tires a bit sooner than the folks in Garmisch, the general rule in Germany is “von O bis O” — meaning snow tires should be used from October until Ostern (Easter). This year, Easter Sunday falls on April 17, 2022.
However, there is much more to de-winterizing vehicles than just changing the tires.
In Bavaria, the roads are sprayed with de-icing and anti-icing agents — like salt and other chemicals — to prevent ice from forming on the streets. While these agents do a great job at maintaining the safety of the roads, they can wreak havoc on the wheel well and undercarriage of a vehicle. Now is the perfect time to head to a car wash and add the undercarriage feature to the wash. USAG Bavaria MWR offers self-service and automatic car washes across the installations.
Once the vehicle is clean and free of winter chemicals, it is time to check the wiper blades. Ice can ding and dent wiper blades — damaging them enough to be useless at removing water from the windshield. Since rain is prevalent throughout Bavarian springtime, it is vital to have working wipers.
If the vehicle has all-season tires, it is essential to check the tire pressure between seasons. The winter months may have caused the pressure in the tires to go down. Then recheck them throughout the changing season, because the tire pressure may naturally increase as the outside temperature rises.
Tire Tip: Tire pressure increases while in motion, because driving increases the heat and friction within the tires. To get the most accurate tire pressure reading, check the pressure before you start driving.
While it is always good to get your oil changed at specific mileages, it is a great idea to change it in between seasons. Across Bavaria, long road trips through snowy mountains ranges and cold weather fronts can be tough on an engine. Check the vehicle's oil viscosity (thickness) and change it if necessary. And when getting an oil change, consider getting a wheel alignment and balance check, too. Always refer to the owner's manual or see an expert, if there are questions.
At the Auto Skills Centers on Hohenfels, Rose and Tower Barracks, shop personnel offer tire services — like mounting and balancing, wheel alignment and tire disposal. They also provide do-it-yourself services, where individuals can change their own tires or oil themselves or with the help of an automotive expert.
Editor's Note: If road conditions become icy and snowy after Easter, German law requires that POVs switch back to winter tires again.