Skip the Pricey Mechanic: Everything You Need to Know about Winter Car Maintenance
Winter can be harsh on your car, from frozen fuel lines to low tire pressure due to extreme cold temperatures. The good news is you can prepare your vehicle for the winter season all by yourself. There is no better time than now to check and update your car for winter readiness while the temperatures are still bearable. This way, you will be prepared as soon as the first chill hits.
Rain, subzero temperatures, frost, and snow can do a number on your vehicle. Winterizing your car is necessary to protect your vehicle from damaging temperatures. Additionally, you avoid risking breakdowns, antifreeze failures, and skidding out of control due to cold weather that can easily contribute to many car accidents in the winter.
To ensure you’re ready for everything Mother Nature throws at you, follow these tips to make sure your car is prepared for this winter:
Service your Car for Winter Conditions
- Service your battery: Did you know when temperatures reach 32°F, your car battery loses 35% of its strength, and at 0°F, your battery loses up to 60% of its strength? This means that it takes more energy to start your vehicle in the winter. Therefore, it is advisable to inspect and ensure your battery is not corroded and is functioning correctly. Ask your auto care provider about your car’s battery health.
- Ramp up your cooling system: It’s recommended to keep a ratio between 50:50 and 70:30 of antifreeze to water. Ask your technician to recommend the most appropriate antifreeze for your car as well as the right coolant-to-water balance to avert potential freezing and corrosion.
- Inspect your brakes: Cold conditions don’t necessarily damage your brakes, but a thorough inspection can guarantee an optimal performance when driving in winter. Your brakes need to be in peak condition in order to react to unsuspected impediments in the road.
- Examine your hoses, belts, wires, cables, and spark plugs – These can malfunction at any time of the year. However, it is especially important in the winter to do what you can to avoid being stranded for a long time during the winter season. It is best to address any potential issues on time before it is too late.
Switch to Winter Tires
While you can use all-season tires in winter, winter tires are especially guaranteed to offer your car maximum performance even during the harshest winter conditions.
If you live in a place that experiences extreme winter conditions, it’s highly recommended that you install winter tires when preparing your vehicle for winter. When the temperatures hover around or below zero, the rubber compounds in non-winter tires harden, and the tire’s ability to grip the road reduces. Winter tires use specific compounds constructed to resist hardening in extreme temperatures. The special engineering provides better traction in ice, slush, snow, and even dry pavement. Consider winter tires for your car to avoid car accidents in the winter.
Check Tire Pressure
Every 10°F change in environmental temperature can mean a drop of one pound of tire pressure. With that said, you should regularly check your tire pressure during winter months and refill your tires whenever necessary. Check your car’s manual or tire placard in the driver’s side door for details on appropriate tire pressure.
Install Winter Wipers
Winter wipers have rubber that prevents ice from amassing on the blades. Remember to uninstall them when spring comes around to reduce the load on the wiper motor, as winter wipers are heavier than regular wipers.
Additionally, if you park outdoors, leave your car wipers in the raised position to stop them from freezing to the windshield. Don’t use your wiper blades to remove snow, ice, or frost from the windscreen; use an ice scraper when needed to preserve your wipers.
Fill The Gas Tank
Filling up your gas tank frequently is more important in winter than in other seasons. First of all, a full tank reduces condensation, which prevents gas line freeze-ups. Secondly, if you’re ever stranded, your engine could be the only thing to keep you warm until help arrives.
Ensure Your Rear Window Defroster is Working
Your windows should be clear of debris and condensation to prevent unsafe driving due to the inability to see behind your car. To this effect, several states have laws that require your windows to stay clear. To avoid a car accident, inspect your rear-window defroster before winter arrives to ensure it’s functioning properly.
Learn to Drive in Harsh Winter Conditions
Before hitting the snowy or icy roads, ensure you have the proper winter driving gear, maintain the required driving speed, and keep your distance between vehicles. Learn vital winter driving skills like what you should do if you start sliding or how to go uphill and downhill.
For instance, driving in 0° weather is much different than driving in 30° weather. Generally, you have better traction at 0° than at 30° because the road surface becomes more slippery at higher winter temperatures.
Safe winter driving prevents auto accidents and maintains the quality of your vehicle.
Add a Protective Layer
Just like moisturizing your skin during the winter keeps it from drying out, a coat of polymer wax to your car will keep the paint on your car looking polished. Polymer wax protects your vehicle from sleet, grime, snow, and road salt.
Wash your Car Regularly
After a winter storm, give your car a high-pressure wash to rinse debris and buildup in hard-to-reach areas such as the underbody, wheels, and wheel wells. While road salt keeps the roads in proper winter driving conditions, it will corrode your car. Its corroding property can damage a car’s clear coat, paint, undercarriage, exhaust system, brake, and gas lines. Don’t overlook road salt as just a necessary winter nuisance. Wash your car to get rid of it!
Washing your car improves visibility because dirt, grime, snow, and salt builds up over the headlights, taillights, backup camera, mirrors, and windshield.
Washing your car during winter can be difficult. The cold and snow can make it a losing battle. However, you can time the weather to wash your car on days when the temperatures aren’t near freezing to make it easier on yourself.
Keep your car’s interior clean by using rubber floor mats as they are easier to clean during winter.
If you park on the street, you will need an electric engine blanket or a block heater. Both of these appliances warm up your engine and keep it from freezing – which can result in poor performance, sludgy oil, or even a failure to ignite altogether.
It would be best if you also considered investing in a car cover. A car cover protects your vehicle from the elements when you’re not driving and has the added benefit of being portable and removable. After a snowstorm, you simply need to remove the cover, and the ice and snow will come off with it!
Ramp up Your Winter Safety Kit
Before driving off on a trip, store several essential tools and supplies in your car in case of an emergency. A pair of jumper cables, a small camping shovel, and an extra ice scraper can be lifesavers in winter conditions. Don’t forget to include survival necessities like a blanket, extra water, matches, etc. in the event that you get stranded.
Fill up your Windshield Wiper Fluid
Refill your washer fluid occasionally. A snowstorm exhausts a large amount of windshield wiper fluid, so remember to replace the washer reservoir often. Ensure to purchase a windshield wiper fluid specifically adapted for winter conditions.
Stay in the Know
Before driving out for a long winter trip, check your weather forecast to see how temperatures may fluctuate while you’re out, then prepare accordingly. Changing temperatures may affect your car tire’s traction and driving ability.
You don’t need to break the bank for a mechanic to winterize your car this winter. With practice, you can install snow tires, tune-up your engine, refill your antifreeze fluids, wash and wax your vehicle, perform fluid checks, and much more. Winterizing your car goes a long way to ensure it serves you for a long time.
It is imperative you ready your vehicle for the winter season to prevent winter-related accidents. Car accidents in the winter are dangerous with the increased risk of driving mistakes and freak accidents, not to mention the chance of being stranded in the cold. Do your part and winterize your car to prevent winter car accidents, as much as possible. If you are in a car accident, call the trusted car accident lawyer in Columbus, Ohio.