Winter is coming, and it’s crucial we don’t forget about proper car maintenance during the cold season.
Extreme temperatures can damage vehicles without the right supervision and proper maintenance. It’s better to winterize your car before the winter season knocks on the door to keep it running smoothly.
Here, we’re going to cover some basic car care tips that can protect you and your automobile during these cold months.
Check the batteries
Picture this– it’s a freezing, cold December morning and you’re ready for work. But nope, your car won’t start. That’s because of the battery: the freezing temperature impacts the battery and diminishes the battery’s power, making it tough for the engine to start.
The battery operates harder than usual, and this puts additional strain on it and prevents it from starting up like it’s supposed. Eventually, you’ll have to jump-start your car and that can be time-consuming and embarrassing.
You can stop this from happening by inspecting the battery before the temperature plummets. If the battery is old then replace it because an old battery will probably die when it’s cold out.
Another tip is to keep a portable car battery charger in your trunk along with other emergency items. It might come in handy when you least expect it.
Change the wiper blades and wiper fluid
If you’re worried about heavy snowfall then don’t forget to install winter wipers as well. These wipers are equipped with rubber and heavy-duty blades made especially for getting rid of the ice and snow.
Also, don’t forget to replace these winter wipers with the regular ones when winter is over. They are heavier than normal wipers, so using them for a long period puts a heavy load on the motor and can wear it out quicker.
Windshield wiper fluid should also be replaced often. A snowstorm can make you use a lot of fluid, so don’t neglect checking and refilling the washer fluid reservoir periodically.
Make sure the fluid is formulated for winter conditions. If you’re unsure about the right formula for the current temperatures then simply add a bottle of antifreeze made especially for windshield wiper fluid into the reservoir.
Maintain the Cooling System
Another thing you need to keep an eye on is the cooling system of your vehicle.
We recommend keeping the ratio between an even 50/50 and 70/30– that’s antifreeze to water. The closer to a “perfect” coolant-to-water ratio you get, the more it will help in preventing potential freezing and corrosion. The ideal ratio depends on the climate and driving conditions.
It’s best to consult a mechanic because they can have the skill and knowledge to find the best fit for your vehicle.
Check the tires
Whether it’s winter (or any other season for that matter), it’s best to check the tire pressure on a regular basis. Driving on under-inflated tires is super risky and increases chances of skidding and blowouts– especially in colder temperatures.
Pay special attention to the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. You can find it in the owner’s manual of your car and some cars have them posted inside the door frame.
It’s good to have a tire pressure gauge on hand and a portable tire inflator for emergencies. A tire inflator allows you to refill the tires wherever and whenever needed.
When the temperature reaches a freezing point or close enough, then the rubber used in non-winter tires tends to harden. This lowers its ability to effectively grip the surface.
However, this can be easily avoided by riding with winter tires. Special compounds are used in them that resist hardening in cold temperatures while also providing better friction in ice, slush, and snow.
If you reside in an area that doesn’t experience intense winter then all-season tires should be okay for you. But, if the winter in your area or city is harsh or you often travel to places that do, then winter tires are the best choice for your car and for your safety.
Change the Oil
Cold weather reduces oil’s ability to get keep on the engine parts running smoothly. The lower temperature makes the oil too thick. Change the oil before winter comes because the impurities can make it gunk up quicker.
Check the Belts and Hoses
Hoses, spark plugs, wires, cables, and belts are critical parts of the vehicle. If they go bad then nothing except a tow truck can save you while on the highway or stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Cold temperatures increase the odds that belts and hoses inside your engine might harden and tear. A tune-up before fall can save you from headaches in the future and let you save a little more money during the holiday season.
Pack Emergency Supplies
Before you embark on any adventures this winter, you need to stockpile your vehicle with useful items and tools in case of an emergency. Here are a few of the essentials you should have in the car:
- – First aid kit
- – Flares
- – A matchbox
- – Flashlight and extra batteries
- – Warm clothing, such as extra jacket, sweater, blanket, hats, etc
- – Ice scraper
- – Jumper cables
- – Snow shovel
- – Car toolkit
- – Non-perishable food and beverage items
- – Tow ropes
- – A fully charged backup cell phone for emergency calls
It’s also good to have roadside assistance via AAA or something entity to help get you out of a jam.
Protect Your Vehicle
The ice and harsh winter elements are tough on a car. To protect yours, make sure you store it in a garage or under a carport. If you don’t have access to either of those, then another good choice is to use a car cover.
Keep the gas tank at least half full
Keeping the gas tank full as possible is extra important in winter compared to any other season. A full tank decreases condensation, which can cause the gas line to freeze. As a bonus, a full gas tank will help you stay warm and survive if you’re ever stranded.