If you live in a cold climate during winter, you know the benefits of a proper winterized vehicle. Even if you are only visiting a cold weather state during winter, these tips will help you too.
Prep the Motor and Engine Bay
1. Have the correct engine viscosity. During winter your vehicle’s motor oil will thicken some causing it to flow slower. Best use 5w-30 motor oil then 10w-30 during winter, it flows better during the cold months lubricating the engine better. But, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
2. Have the correct antifreeze mixture. A 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. The mixture will prevent your coolant from freezing. The DIYers can check the mixture themselves with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which can be picked up at any auto parts store. Have your mechanic test, flush, and refill the coolant to the recommended mixture. The mechanic can properly dispose of the antifreeze if your not capable of doing so. Coolant can’t just be poured down the drain.
3. Is your battery ready for winter? Keep your battery posts and connections corrosion free and tight. A quick way to test the health of a battery is to measure its ability to hold a charge.
- 12.6V to 12.8V means a full charge
- 12.2V to 12.4V it has a half charge
- 11.8V to 12.0V the battery needs to be changed.
4. Examine your belts and hoses. Cold weather can do a number on belts and hoses. Check them for wear and tear before winter arrives.
Keep Your Car On The Road
5. Keep your windshield clean. Replace your windshield wiper blades if they start to streak, that is a sign they are starting to fail. Wiper blades usually work effectively for about one year. Keep your windshield washer fluid in the reservoir full. It not only helps to defrost the window, but maintain visibility through the windshield by letting you wash off the mixture of salt and water from the road. Also check to see that your heater and defroster are working properly so you can keep the windshield nice and clear.
6. Consider snow tires. All weather tires are fine if you don’t live in areas with lots of snow fall. Snow tires improves traction when you need it the most, on hills. Consider buying a set to be used during winter and change them out in spring.
Besides snow tires check your tire pressure occasionally and keep it at recommended inflation. It will give the tires the traction it needs to ensure best grip in wet, snowy or icy conditions.
7. Does your 4 wheel drive work? It’s important to check the function of your four-wheel-drive system and be sure it’s working correctly. Because most drivers don’t use their 4WD systems during the summer months. Be sure that the system engages and disengages easily.
8. Is your gas tank full? Shifting temperatures can cause condensation to form on the walls of a gas tank when it is near empty. It will eventually create water which is heavier than gas, so it will sink and finds its way into the fuel lines, freezing up and blocking the flow of gasoline and hopefully not burst the lines. Keep the gas tank past half way during the winter.
9. What is in your emergency kit? Make sure you have one. It could save you one day. Some items to have are:
- a blanket
- extra boots and gloves
- an extra set of warm clothes
- extra water and food, including hard candies
- an ice scraper
- a small shovel
- a flashlight
- windshield washer fluid
- windshield wipers
- jumper cables
- a tool kit
- tire chains
- a tire gauge
- a spare tire with air in it
- tire-changing equipment
- a first-aid kit
- paper towels
- a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.
- Also, keep the gas tank as full as you can to prevent the gas lines from freezing.
10. Know what to do if you get stranded. Don’t wander away from your car unless you’re completely sure about where you are and how far away help is. Light two flares and situate them at each end of your vehicle to call attention to your plight. Put on the extra clothes and use the blanket to stay warm. If you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes for each hour you’re waiting for help. Leave at least one window open a little bit so that snow and ice don’t seal the car shut. Suck on a hard candy to prevent your mouth from getting too dry.