Car Care Tips for Cold Weather
Car Care Tips for Cold Weather
When the weather outside is frightful, the last thing you need is car trouble. Regular, routine preventive maintenance will help ensure that your car will get you where you need to go safely and reliably. It also will save you money by increasing fuel efficiency and the likelihood that a technician will detect problems early so you can address them before they require expensive, emergency repairs.
Winterize Your Vehicle: Check These Boxes!
Before you brave treacherous winter roads, make sure you’ve had a professional technician take care of the following key maintenance issues.
- Change Your Oil. Regular oil and filter changes are critical to protect your engine, according to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. This service is especially important in winter, as cold temperatures can cause sludge buildup in dirty oil.
- Evaluate/Replace Filters. When your oil is changed, your oil filter should be changed, too. Have air, fuel and positive crankcase ventilation filters checked and replaced if needed.
- Check Antifreeze. Ideally, your radiator’s fluid reservoirs should be full, but not all the way to the “maximum-fill” mark. Have your cooling system flushed and refilled with a 50/50 concentration of antifreeze and water (make sure to use the appropriate antifreeze rating for your climate.)
- Check Battery. Have your battery charge checked by a professional. A weak charge could become no-charge in winter, as cold-weather cranking requires extra energy. Make sure connections are tight and any corrosion is cleaned.
- Check Belts and Hoses. Drastic seasonal temperature changes cause belts and hoses to expand and contract. Eventually, they may crack and fail. Have worn belts or hoses replaced.
- Check Windshield Wipers. Worn wiper blades will significantly obscure your vision by smearing and streaking your windshield. If blades are beginning to show signs of wear, install a fresh pair. Also, make sure you have a full reservoir of windshield-washer fluid (not water.)
- Evaluate Tires. Have your tires evaluated to make sure they have sufficient tread and aren’t wearing unevenly (in which case have them rotated.) Check tire pressure regularly (you’ll find the recommended inflation level inside your driver’s-side door.) For the safest winter performance, have winter tires installed on your vehicle.
- Check Brakes. Brake malfunctions can be disastrous, especially on slick roads. Have your brakes thoroughly checked out by a reputable professional.
- Check Transmission. Unfortunately, many motorists neglect their transmissions until they fail and require costly repairs. Have transmission fluids topped off or replaced, and have a technician evaluate the system for any problems.
- Carry an Emergency Kit. The aforementioned steps will significantly reduce the likelihood that you’ll become stranded. Still, stock your car with apparel, tools, snacks, water and emergency gear to help you survive a worst-case scenario.