The sunny days are over and the winter chill is threatening your car’s vitals. Now, unless you live in mild climates, you need to protect your car from low temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Properly winterizing your car saves you from expensive repair costs allowing you to enjoy your car the whole year. Here are some essentials steps to keep your vehicle safe from harm this winter.
1. Check the Oil
Car manufacturers highly recommend an oil change for the low winter temperatures. Different temperatures demand different types of oil with the right viscosity or thickness for each season. As the temperature drops, the oil has the tendency to get thicker risking damaging your car’s engine due to inadequate lubrication. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine the proper grade of oil.
2. Check the Coolant System
The proper antifreeze mixture is essential to successfully prevent water from freezing inside your car’s radiator. A 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually suggested protecting the radiator during the winter even in the lowest temperatures. Drain the cooling system and replace with antifreeze mixture; if you are not sure of how this is done, ask for a professional help.
3. Check the Engine
Inspect thoroughly the coolant system for any signs of wear or leaks. Check carefully the hoses and connections around the coolant and engine. Take a clean soft cloth and wipe out the engine, brake and oil system, filler cap and coolant to make sure that there are no leaks. Look for damaged or loose wiring connections. If there are any, it is best to notify your mechanic. Make sure the heater hoses, radiator hoses, fuel lines, steering and brake pipes are firmly tight. If not, immediately ask your mechanic to replace them.
Important tip: never check the coolant and engine if the radiator is hot. You risk getting seriously injured or burned. Always allow the engine to cool down.
4. Check the Battery
Battery capacity can be significantly reduced due to low temperatures. Thoroughly check your battery, terminals and wiring for wear. Make sure there are no cracks or loose caps. You will also need to check your battery fluid by gently unscrewing the battery caps. The battery fluid has to cover the plates; if not, replace with refined water. Make sure it does not exceed the marked levels. After you are done, wipe out with a clean dry cloth and securely tight the caps.
Important tip: wear gloves and eyewear when replacing with distilled water. The battery’s electrolytes may harm you. Moreover, never perform a battery check with the engine on or while smoking as it is extremely dangerous.
5. Check the Tires
Your tires need to be in perfect shape to keep you safe on wet and snowy roads. Consider replacing them with brand new ones if showing any signs of wear. Additionally, keep in mind that your tires tend to lose air pressure during winter. If you are not sure of the exact air pressure level for your tires, refer to your manual.
If you live in snowy areas with extremely low temperatures, then it is highly suggested to change all four tires to snow tires. Snow tires are specifically designed to deliver the outmost wintertime traction and control.
Important tip: check your spare tire. Make sure it has the right air pressure and does not have any signs of wear. Furthermore, check if you indeed have the necessary tire gauges with you.
6. Check the Windshield
Neglecting to winterize your car’s windshield may cause severe vision problems. Rain, snow, ice and wet from the headed cars will be extremely difficult to get rid off if the right windshield wiper blades are not set up. Change the summer wiper blades with snow ones. For maximum results, add a 50-50 distilled water and washer antifreeze fluid to the washer tank. Moreover, it is always best to keep a snow brush on your car to easily remove snow.
Important tip: due to low temperatures, the windows will tend to fog limiting down your visibility. If so, run the air condition right between the cool and hot. The blowing air will clear off moisture defogging the window in no time.
7. Check the Emergency Kit
Regardless if you are planning a winter trip or simply using your car in town, you need to keep the emergency kit fully equipped. Some of the essential items you need to have are: flares, radio, flash light, mobile phone charger, engine oil, washer fluid, coolant, blankets, gloves and boots.
When you take the time to winterize your car, you become more comfortable driving in cold, snowy climates. A short commute quickly becomes difficult when your vehicle isn’t equipped to handle snow and ice. By planning ahead, you can make winterizing your vehicle an annual ritual in the name of safety and vehicle reliability.
Properly winterizing your car is an essential step for smooth and safe tractions. Neglecting any of the above steps may end up to severe accidents. Snow and rain hide dangers demanding from you to be fully prepared at any time. Just follow the above steps and keep you and your car safe from harm.