I’ve been an avid home mechanic for a while and have had a series of cars that have needed a little bit of love and understanding to keep them running over the winter. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about keeping a car running correctly over the winter.
The most common winter problem is the battery. A cold battery can lose a lot of power and if you’re not careful then you can find yourself stranded without the ability to start the car. Check the cold cranking amps on the battery yourself or take it to a shop to have it done for you. If you haven’t changed the battery within the last couple of years then you may want to consider doing so. Changing the battery is a simple job and batteries are a relatively small expense compared to the hassle a flat one will cause you.
Clean Car & Avoid Garages
Make sure that you clean your car whenever the weather gets above freezing. Below freezing the salt will stay dissolved in the water but above freezing the salt will come out and start to eat away at the paint and metal causing discoloration and rust. You may also want to try and avoid any heated parking garages as they will melt the water and allow the salt to start eating away at the paint even if it is too cold to wash the car.
Thinner Grades of Oil
Thinner grades of oil are better for the winter. Oil gets thicker as it gets colder, so using a thinner grade of oil helps keep the viscosity the same as it would be during the summer. Use 5W-30 instead of 10W-30 over the winter and you’ll keep the engine working efficiently.
Keep Gas in the Tank
Keep gas in the tank so that gas lines don’t freeze. There’s no need to keep more than half a tank to keep gas in all the lines. Keeping gas in the tank may also help you in the event you have to go somewhere during a storm because you won’t have to go anywhere via the gas station.
Check and Replace Belts
Make sure that your belts are in good shape by looking for any cracks, fraying or discoloration on the belts and make sure that there are no other things that may cause them to break and leave you, literally, out in the cold. Belts are cheap to check and replace so better to do it sooner rather than later.
Be Aware of New Noises
As you drive your car over the winter make sure that you’re keeping an ear open for any new noises that may appear. Sometimes the change of temperature can make parts fail that would not otherwise fail. The sooner you detect a noise the sooner you can have it fixed and the more likely you are to avoid a problem that keeps you stranded.
If you take a few of these simple steps then your car is a lot more likely to make it through the winter without any problems. Leave us a comment with your best ideas for keeping your car running over the winter.