Winter can bring about difficult and dangerous conditions for drivers. It also poses certain challenges for vehicles. Cold temperatures, icy roads, and other factors can take a toll on your vehicle.
Because of that, giving your car the care it needs in colder weather is essential. Keep in mind the following 10 tips for keeping your vehicle in top-notch condition despite the hazards of winter.
1) Check Your Battery
For one, be sure to check your battery. Cold weather can drain a battery. Far too many drivers try to leave their homes on cold mornings only to find their batteries are too weak to start their vehicles. Have your battery tested by a service technician or cdjr auto parts supplier to ensure it’s in good condition. If it’s more than three years old, consider replacing it. If you have a maintainable battery, check its electrolyte levels. If they’re low, top off the cells with water.
2) Check Antifreeze Levels
Antifreeze levels are also important during the winter months. Though coolant is essential for your vehicle all year long, antifreeze is particularly important when temperatures drop below freezing. It’ll keep the water in your cooling system from freezing. If water in the cooling system freezes, it could cause your radiator to burst or your engine to crack, both of which are serious problems. Be sure your coolant levels are where they should be and your antifreeze-to-water ratio is right.
3) Wiper Blades and Windshield Washer Fluid
When you’re driving in the winter, visibility can suffer. Even cleaning off your windshield enough to pull out of your driveway may be a challenge some mornings. Worn or damaged wiper blades aren’t very effective, so check them to be sure they’re in good condition. If they’re damaged, replace them. Be sure your windshield washer reservoir is full as well. Consider filling it with a washer fluid that’s designed for wintertime. Those contain antifreeze agents that keep them from freezing solid in sub-zero temperatures.
4) Examine Your Tires
Check over your tires too. Be sure they’re in good condition and properly inflated. That’ll help you keep traction on snowy or icy roads. Switching to winter tires is recommended in areas where winter weather is a common and extensive problem. They give you even more grip on the road to help prevent sliding.
5) Oil Changes
Oil changes are an essential part of vehicle maintenance, and they’re even more important in the wintertime. When temperatures start to plummet, it’s often best to switch to a thinner oil than the one you run in the summertime. Cold temperatures cause the oil in your engine to get thicker. That means it won’t lubricate the moving parts of your engine as effectively. Thinner oil leaves extra leeway for that, so it’ll be more effective in colder weather.
6) Fill Up Your Fuel Tank
This may sound a bit odd, but another important component of winter car care is keeping your fuel tank at least half full when possible. That’ll prevent condensation from forming inside the tank. Excessive condensation in the fuel tank could freeze, causing damage to the tank, fuel lines, and filter. Besides that, it’s always good to have plenty of fuel so you’ll be less likely to get stranded in dangerous winter weather.
7) Protect the Exterior of Your Vehicle
It’s also a good idea to protect your vehicle’s exterior during the winter. Apply a coat of wax before winter sets in to help safeguard your car against snow, ice, and road salt. Wash the vehicle regularly as well, paying extra attention to the undercarriage. That’ll prevent salt and road grime from building up. If you allow salt spray to build up on your vehicle, it could damage its paint and cause corrosion on the undercarriage.
8) Take Care of the Vehicle’s Interior
Winter doesn’t just affect the exterior of a vehicle; it can affect the interior as well. Use high-quality floor mats to protect against moisture, salt, and dirt. If you have leather or vinyl upholstery, apply a conditioner to protect it. That’ll keep it from cracking because of the low temperatures. Wipe down the dash, steering wheel, center console, and door panels with a conditioner as well to keep them looking great.
9) Keep an Emergency Kit on Hand
Having an emergency kit on hand is recommended as well. It’ll help protect you and your vehicle in the wintertime. Ice scrapers, and household items to help de-ice cars will be helpful for iced-over windows. Jumper cables or a jump starter will prove essential for those times when your vehicle won’t start. Some jump starters offer far more than just a way to start your car. They have built-in air compressors for inflating your tires, power outlets, USB ports, and other tools that could come in handy in a pinch. Add blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks to your emergency kit to keep you safe until help arrives if you find yourself stranded.
10) Keep Safety in Mind
Finally, be sure to adjust your driving habits and keep safety in mind during the winter. Drive slower on icy roads and when visibility is low. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Avoid sharp turns, hard braking, and sudden lane changes in poor driving conditions. Be especially cautious on bridges because they tend to freeze before the roads do. These measures aren’t part of vehicle maintenance, but they can certainly help keep your car in optimal condition.
Helping Your Vehicle Weather the Winter
Routine maintenance and car care are essential. They’re particularly important during the winter, though, because cold temperatures, winter weather, and other factors can take a major toll on a vehicle. Keep these ten tips in mind to ensure your vehicle is ready to forge through the cold. Protect both the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Keep watch over the battery, antifreeze levels, and tires. Keep up with routine oil changes and try to keep your fuel tank at least half full. Keep an emergency kit on hand and keep safe driving practices in mind as well. These measures will help make sure your vehicle weathers the winter successfully.