Car Care: Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle
The days get shorter and the winds get colder. The temperatures drop, and ice, snow and sleet cover the roads with slippery mush. Winter will be here before you know it. To help you safely navigate the season, consider these tips for winterizing your vehicle.
Pack for the unexpected
The emergency kit you carry in your car needs to be updated with items designed specifically for chilly temperatures, hazardous road conditions and winter-related mishaps. You’ll need an ice scraper, shovel, blanket, non-perishable food, road flares, an extra pair of gloves, a winter hat and a flashlight with extra batteries. In addition to a spare tire and the tools to change a flat, How Stuff Works writer John Fuller recommends keeping extra bottles of engine oil, washer fluid and coolant in your car.
Update your wiper blades
Winter will pummel your windshield with icy rain and sleet and obscure your vision with a blanket of snow. Your windshield wipers are your best defense from the relentless onslaught of precipitation. Make sure your wipers are ready for the beating. Install a new set, maybe even upgrade to winter wipers, and during the season make sure that they are free from splits, tears and cracks. “Winter wipers have the strength required to keep your windshield clear, and they’re wrapped in high-grade rubber that’s designed to protect the hinges from accumulating snow and ice. Additionally, they come with frames that are extra-sturdy, and this allows them to clear ice without bending,” writes CARFAX® writer Warren Clarke.
Test the charge
Although sturdy and heavy, car batteries are surprisingly fickle. Extreme temperatures — both high and low — greatly affect how well your battery operates. By the time winter rolls around you may have stretched your battery to its limits. Check the charge and the connections. Look for any damage or corrosion. If the battery is weak, replace it.
Check the tires
Tires with proper inflation, substantial tread, and no signs of buldges, blisters or tears will help your car safely grip the road. Make sure to review the condition of your tires regularly. “Frequently check the air pressure in each tire. Each 10-degree drop in outside temperature can mean a one-pound loss in air pressure,” according to Kelley Blue Book® writer Rick Kranz. He suggests checking your tires after your car has been at rest for at least 30 minutes.
Assess your vehicle’s systems
Is your heater and defroster working? Are your brakes making any suspicious noises, creating too much vibration or causing your car to pull to one side? Brush up on how to operate your all- or 4-wheel drive systems and schedule recommended maintenance. Now is the time to check that everything is working properly, Kranz says.
Check connections and top off fluids
Under the hood of your car is a series of belts, hoses and connections. It’s important that this network remains strong. “Even if you’re not getting a tune-up this winter, it doesn’t hurt to have a mechanic take a look at how everything is holding up around your engine,” advises Fuller. Is it time for an oil change? Even if it is not, you’ll still want to check the viscosity of your oil, he adds. Top off your windshield wiper fluid and make sure you have the correct amount of antifreeze, too.
Don’t let winter get the best of you; prep your car now with these winterizing tips.
This article is presented by Mullinax Ford.