Winter is coming and with it comes harsher weather and tricky road conditions. But even if the conditions get nasty, your driving experience doesn’t have to suffer. Here is a brief list of preventative measures and maintenance tips that will help you winterize your car for safe and easy commutes all season long. Remember, you can always stop by our Service Center for a bumper-to-bumper checkup and complementary fluid top-up! We’re happy to answer your questions on the phone or in person.
Tires & Tread
Let’s start from the ground up. Your tires are the only contact you have with the road and as such are play the most important role in preventing slips and slides on the road.
- Inflate your tires 3-5 psi higher than the summer or all-season air pressure. Check your owner’s manual for brand specific psi adjustments.
- Consider switching all four tires to winter tires with deeper grooves and special rubber compounds to give you optimum traction.
- If you live off the beaten track, look into chains or studded tires to give you even more gripping power on slick surfaces.
- Double-check your spare tire, just in case!
Chilly weather reduces your battery’s cranking power and can make it hard to get going in the morning. Your battery can also make a huge impact on how the rest of the engine fares.
- Check over the cables for cracks and breaks. The terminals should all fit tightly, without a loose connection.
- Bring in your vehicle for a battery check and get it charged for optimum performance.
- Check the fluid levels in the battery at home by removing the plastic caps on the top and taking a peek. If the fluid is low, add distilled water until it reaches the line.
Your oil thickens in the cold temperatures, making it harder for the engine to turn over. Most newer models use multi-weight oil that works well in all temps, but have a professional check it out if you’re unsure.
- Swap to winter weight oil, if needed.
- Remember to change your oil diligently, as dirty oil can spell trouble for you – especially in winter.
- Don’t skip the warm-up! Let your engine idle for a few minutes to get warm before driving off. Usually, the amount of time it takes you to clean the snow off your car is just right to allow your car to wake up.
Visibility – Inside & Out
Your visibility is vital on the roads. Mother Nature might not make it easy in the winter but you can have good visibility with just a few minor adjustments.
- Upgrade your wiper blades if your current ones show any cracking or stiffness. This prevents streaks and smears.
- Lift your wipers off the windshield for the night if you know the temp will get below freezing. This prevents your wipers from freezing to the glass.
- Top off your windshield washer reservoir with a solution that contains an anti-freeze agent. Most generic blue fluids do – never use water in the winter!
- When you’re defrosting inside, have your heat on as well as the A/C. The air conditioning dehumidifies your vehicle and will clear up your windshield faster. Never recirculate air when defrosting.
- Check your headlights and turn signals and have them replaced if needed.
- Keep a sturdy scraper with a brush on it in your car so you can easily clear snow and ice before driving off.
Don’t skip on the regular car care when it’s cold out. This is when you need to be on top of any issues so they don’t become bigger problems down the road.
- Get a basic tune-up before winter for some serious problem prevention. The cold weather usually exacerbates small issues into larger ones.
- Check hoses, rubber and plastic parts, and all caps for cracking, leaking or poor fittings. The cold can make these parts brittle so check them over and replace them before the cold sets in.
- Flush cooling system at least once every two years (check your owner’s manual for specific instruction). This helps keep corrosion from building up in the system.
It’s not a bad idea to keep at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times to avoid moisture from forming in the gas lines and potentially freezing. You should also keep an emergency kit with flares, blankets, boots, radio, extra engine oil, washer fluid, coolant, a flashlight and whatever else would make you comfortable in an extreme situation. Keep an eye on the weather and always plan accordingly when taking long trips.