Winter is fast approaching and we need to start thinking about winterizing our cars! If you take care of your vehicle daily, then this process will be much easier. But if you are just starting out, then here’s a list to keep you and your vehicle safe this winter!
Winterizing Your Vehicle
First and foremost, you need to check your tires. Tires change a lot during the winter season. The air pressure will drop and if your treads are low, your stability and traction will be low. Your tire pressure will drop 1 psi for every 10-degree decrease in outside temperature. Which means if your tires are already low, they will become even lower in pressure once it hits 20 degrees! This will cause your tires to have less traction on the road and could potentially lead to more flats.
You also should consider switching to winter tires that have more tread if you live in areas of heavy snow. Winter tires have special treads that will make driving in deep snow a little more easy while also having softer rubber for better stability and connection to the road.
To go along with checking your tires, you also should check your four-wheel drive. A simple inspection from your mechanic is all you need. Just ask them to check your four-wheel drive to make sure everything is working properly before snow hits. Your four-wheel drive will provide better traction in the snow and ice so making sure it is working properly and the fluids are full is important for your safety. Also, as a reminder, in some cars your four-wheel drive is automatic, but in some cases, you have to push a button to turn on better traction. Read through your owners manual to understand what your car has and how your traction operates.
The second thing to check is your battery. The cold weather is really tough of your car battery. The chemical reaction that brings your battery to life will generate power much slower in the colder weather (don’t we all) which means your battery has a harder time starting, especially if it isn’t already fully charged. Your engine also requires more current from your car battery during colder temperatures so your battery is working 10x more than it had to in the summer. Make sure you have your mechanic check your battery voltage to make sure it is fully charged, check for any corrosion, and top off your battery with distilled water to help it through the winter!
Wiper blades are another important car part you need to inspect before winter. Check for any breaks or bad rubber on the blades. If you notice any streaking across your windshield while using your wiper blades, your rubber on the blades has worn and you need to replace them ASAP. Wiper blades are not expensive and are something you do not want broken come winter. Having proper wiper blades is so important for your safety during snow and bad weather. Make sure you have enough washer fluid in your reservoir and if you have any anti-freeze additives, add some to your fluid once snow hits!
Checking your antifreeze and coolant level is also important in winterizing your vehicle. Your antifreeze will prevent your coolant from freezing, which will help keep your engine warm during winter. If you need more information on what your coolant is / does and where to locate your reservoir, read this article; Engine Coolant Information.
Another fluid to check is your motor oil. Cold weather reduces the effectiveness of your oil. Cold weather will cause your oil to thicken, which means it will not run through your engine as quickly since the thickness causes your oil to run slower. Your engine will not get the lubrication it needs in time which could potentially lead to a dead car. Not something you want when it is 0 degrees outside and snowing!
To help prevent the thickness change, you need to change your motor oil viscosity. Purchase an oil that is thinner. Check your owners manual for more information on what to buy. They will recommend the proper oil to purchase in the winter and summer.
Lastly, you need to make sure you have the proper emergency items located in your car or nearby. You can find a list of items to purchase by clicking this article ( How To Create The Best Car Emergency Kit ). Some items include a flashlight, water bottle, washer fluid, blanket, and much more! And if you ever get “frozen out” of your vehicle, make sure you have an anti-freeze spray nearby or run hot water on your door handle until it unfreezes!
I know some of us are dreading the winter weather, but if your car is properly prepared so are you! Go tackle this winter, build a snowman, sip some hot chocolate, and enjoy its beauty!
FYI- keeping a regular car maintenance schedule will help you winterize your car. Print out this free PDF checklist and keep it in your vehicle. Click this link for more information.