Prepare Your Car for Winter

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Fall trips are fun but winter will be here before you know it and getting your car ready is important. Don’t be the poor soul stranded on the side of the road because they forgot to winterize their car.

Keep your vehicle in the best possible driving condition. The lights, tires, brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, and radiator are especially important for winter driving. The change from summer to winter driving can affect the way your vehicle performs. Set a deadline to have your car winterized.

Here are some guidelines to keep your car running safely this coming winter.

Check your anti-freeze. Coolant systems that are not in the right proportion will lead to overheating due to freezing. Have the car’s coolant system flushed in the fall before the first freeze. You also need to check the system for leaks and install fresh winter coolant.

Gas and Fuel. There is such a thing as “gas line freeze”. Condensation builds up in the gas line and gas tank, and freezes. If you have an SUV you may want to inquire with an auto parts store about a head bolt heater.

Heater System. Confirm that your heating system works correctly and the core doesn’t leak. Check to see if all speeds of the blower work and the window defrosters are operating.

Windshield Wipers. Inspect the windshield wipers and replace them if they are worn or have become hardened. Change the windshield wiper fluid with one that has antifreeze added to it.

Tires.  Check the tire pressure for seasonal weight. As the weather cools the bottom of the tire goes “flat”. Consult with a tire retailer about snow/winter tires and chains (if required in your area). And don’t forget to check the spare tire.

Phone charger.  Make sure there is a phone charger or charging devise that is working.

Trunk or Storage.  Check the trunk to make sure the items needed are still there or need to be replaced. Make sure there is an emergency kit, first aid kit, tire jack is in working order, and there are extra fluids.

Maintain ALL fluids regularly

• Check owners manual for types of fluids for your car or truck.
• An older car in an area that has temperatures that fall below freezing often uses 30-weight single viscosity oil. You need to go to a lower viscosity oil, like a 10-weight, when the temperature falls below zero and stays there.   • This also applies to your automatic transmission fluid. Higher weight oils and transmission fluids do not lubricate sufficiently in colder weather. Newer automobiles use multi-viscosity oil such as 10 and 30 weights. This eliminates the need to change the type of oil. 

In addition to annual maintenance, here are some ‘basic tips’ to winterize your car:

  • Test your battery; battery power drops as the temperature drops.
  • Make sure the cooling system is in good working order and check fluid levels.
  • Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car.
  • If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch.
  • Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops.
  • Check your wiper blades and replace if needed.
  • Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze.

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