Getting Your Vehicle Winter Ready
Winter weather can take a toll on the health of your vehicle. I tell people your car reacts as you do to any extreme weather conditions. Cold weather tests the systems of your vehicle just like it tests your body. When the weather is cold, your muscles can ache a little more, and you have a higher chance of getting sick. Your vehicle is the same , and it will be better prepared for the bad weather by looking over a few items.
Check Your Coolant – Test the protection level of your antifreeze/water mixture. If the protection level does not meet the condition of your environment, damage can occur. Use a tester or have your local shop test your coolants protection level. Make sure the system is full.
Keep Up With Your Oil Changes – The best way to keep your vehicle running right is replacing your engine oil and filter. Make sure you are using the manufacturers recommended oil for your climate.
Washer Fluid and Wiper Blades – Make sure the washer fluid is topped off with fluid that can handle cold temperatures and make sure the wiper blades are in excellent condition. An iced-over windshield can ruin a brand new set of blades. If they do not clear the windshield, it will make it difficult to see.
Inspect Your Tires – It is crucial to ensure your tire pressure is at the proper level and make sure your tires are in excellent condition. Both of these can cause you to lose traction.
Heater and Defroster – Make sure these systems are working correctly. If your car is not producing heat or the heating system has a malfunction, you will not be able to clear the windshield from fog, snow or ice.
Battery – Have your battery tested. If your battery is 4 or more years older, don’t be surprised if it needs to be replaced. Cold weather is hard on a batteries ability to start the engine of your vehicle. Also, make sure the cables are in good condition, and the battery is free of corrosion.
Have an Emergency Kit – It’s a good idea to always have an emergency kit in your vehicle year round but winter time is most important. Have some road flares, jack, lug nut wrench, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, gloves, hat, ice scraper, water to drink, snacks, small shovel, kitty litter or sand encase you get stuck in the snow.
Regular Maintenance – Have your vehicle looked over to make sure it’s ready for the cold temperatures. Some items to inspect are your coolant hoses, drive belts, and a tune-up. The cold weather will test all of these systems, and if one is weak, it is more likely to fail.
Keep Your Gas Tank Filled – If the weather is bad, refill your tank when it gets down to a quarter to half full. Taking chances stretching your fuel in bad weather could be dangerous if you get stuck in the snow or a traffic jam. No fuel = No heat.
Have Your Car Detailed – This sounds crazy, but a fresh coat of wax goes a long way protecting your paint and finish.
Lights – Make sure all your lights are working. Walk around and make sure all are operating correctly. You need to see, and other drivers need to see you.
Four Wheel Drive– It is great having this when the weather is bad, but there is no benefit if it doesn’t work. Test it before you need it.
Having your vehicle prepared for the cold winter temperatures is the best way to prevent an unexpected and inconvenient breakdown.