If you don’t want to break down on the side of the road this winter then here are a few preventative steps you can follow on how to winterize your car and be safe this winter.
First thing, make sure to take your car in for an oil change and tell them that you want a lighter viscosity motor oil. Freezing temperatures, in winter months, cause motor oil to thicken up. If you’re starting your engine, on a blustery winter morning, and the motor oil is not circulating, you could be causing severe harm to your engine. There’s nothing more important to your engine than proper lubrication, without it you could potentially completely destroy the engine. This is essential if you want to know how to winterize your car.
Second, make sure that you’ve got a proper antifreeze and water mixture. You can have this done in the same shop that changes your oil. You can also buy an inexpensive kit at your local auto-parts store that tells you when your mixture is correct.
Do not drive with just water in your cooling system. The water in your engine can potentially freeze in winter months, expand and crack your engine block. Furthermore, blocks of ice in your cooling system means that your cooling fluids aren’t circulating and you’re going to be on the side of the road with plumes of steam gushing out from under the hood.
Third, make sure you have new, good quality, windshield wipers. In sleeting, snowing and freezing rain conditions, the single most important thing is to be able to see. Road conditions will be bad enough during winter weather and if you can’t see then you’re very likely to get into an accident.
Fourth, windshield wiper fluid is absolutely essential for winter driving. Wiper fluid contains chemicals which lower the freezing temperature of water, helping to melt ice and snow that accumulates on your windshield. Good wipers and wiper fluid are very vital for winterizing your car.
Fifth, make sure that your tires are not worn or in any way damaged. Winter storms mean terrible road and driving conditions. If you’re driving on bad tires you’re almost guaranteed to lose traction, spin out and end up in a ditch if not in an outright crash. Make sure your tires are properly inflated with the correct tires pressure. Since you’re already checking the tires you might as well check your brakes. You’ll need good brakes come winter.
Pack an emergency pack in the trunk of your car just in case. Help could be hours away and with the mercury dropping you could well suffer frostbite.
Your emergency winter car pack should contain a blanket or two, change of socks and gloves, some energy bars or candy, road flares, snow shovel and either sand or kitty litter for traction.
If you’ve broken down on the side of the road you’ll need those road flares to keep other drivers from slamming into the back of your car. The blanket is there to keep you warm, the change of socks is there because you’ll likely step out of your car to check under the hood. In essence it’s very likely that your shoes and socks will get soaked.
The energy or candy bars are there because you’ll need energy if help is several hours away. The snow shovel and kitty litter are to dig your car out should you end up in a ditch. Carry a fire extinguisher year round in your car, not just during winter months.
These are basics on how to winterize your car as well as very basic “emergency pack” instructions. By all means feel free to add to the emergency pack and plan ahead. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.