How To Winterize Your Vehicle
Before winter sets in, you want to make sure that you have your vehicle in top condition, especially if you live in an area where it rains and snows a lot. Stay safe this winter by following these tips on how to winterize your vehicle.
Change Your Wiper Blades
Visibility is key when driving, so you need good wiper blades with new rubber on them to keep your windshield clean. Over time, the rubber gets frayed and breaks. This allows rain, sleet, and snow to smear on your windshield, which greatly reduces your visibility. New blades will make it easier to see the road when driving under adverse conditions. In addition, make sure to keep your washer fluid reservoir full at all times.
Put Winter Tires On
Tires are important for grip and traction, especially on wet and slippery roads. Snow or winter tires have a softer tread that provides better flexibility no matter how far the temperature plummets. Snow tires also have a distinct tread pattern designed for grip on snow and ice. Before winter arrives, swap out your all-season or summer tires for winter ones.
Keep the Right Tire Pressure
If you decide to keep your all-season tires on for the winter, make sure that you keep them at the manufacturer’s suggested pressure, or psi. When the weather turns cold, the pressure in the tires drop. If the temperature drops 10 degrees, the psi in your tire drops by one point, and with each drop in psi comes reduced tire traction. Periodically check the pressure of your tires and fill them to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Check the Battery
The last thing you want to experience on a cold winter morning is a dead battery. Cold weather reduces the ability of your battery to fully start your engine, which can cause wear and tear on the battery and reduce its life span. Make sure the water level is correct on the battery, and if it’s low, fill it with distilled water. If you feel that your battery isn’t performing properly, have the battery replaced before it dies.
Use the Right Engine Oil
As the weather gets colder, the lubricating oil in your engine thickens. The thicker the oil, the harder it is to circulate properly throughout the engine. If the engine isn’t getting the proper amount of lubrication, it becomes much harder to start your car. Your owner’s manual will have recommendations for the proper grade of oil necessary for the climate you live in. Once you know which oil grade to use for the season, make sure to regularly schedule oil changes so you have a thinner viscosity of oil in the summer months and a thicker grade in the winter.
Flush the Cooling System
To help prevent corrosion in the radiator, it’s ideal to have the cooling system flushed every two years. Once the mechanic flushes the system, they’ll fill the radiator with a mixture of water and antifreeze. In general, the mixture of antifreeze to water is a 50-50 ratio. In colder climates, you might need a 60-40 or even a 70-30 ratio. Be sure to check your owners manual for the mixture ratio, and don’t go above the recommended water to antifreeze ratio.
Check Belts and Hoses
The belts and hoses in your car can become brittle when the temperature drops. Once this happens, they have a tendency to crack, which can cause hoses to leak. Fan belts can also crack and break, interfering with the car’s ability to keep the engine cool. Check the hoses and belts by visually inspecting them and squeezing them to see how pliable they are. If you see fraying or cracks, have the parts replaced.
Wax the Car
If you live in an area where the roads get salted, that salt can erode the paint and finish on the outside of your car. Prepare the exterior of your car by washing it thoroughly, and then put a good coat of wax on it to help repel any salt. If you have alloy wheels, wax them as well to prevent erosion. Wash the car, including the underbody, regularly to remove salt and debris.
Protect the Interior
When you step into your car with wet muddy shoes, the water melts into the carpets on the floor. Over time, the water can create mold, which can rot your carpets and potentially cause respiratory issues. All-weather rubberized floor mats help to prevent water seeping into the carpet and they’re easy to remove and clean. Make sure the floor mats are the right size so they don’t interfere with the floor pedals.
Warm the Engine Up
When it’s cold out, the engine’s oil needs a few minutes to warm up and thin out so it can lubricate the engine properly. Start the car and let the engine idle for a bit. There’s no need to rev the engine; just let it idle as it normally would. If you have a modern car that supports connected devices, download the manufacturer’s app so you can remotely start the car from your smartphone. By the time you’re ready to get in your car, you’ll have a nicely warmed engine.
Keep Emergency Supplies
Just in case you get stranded by a bad winter storm, it’s wise to have emergency supplies in your car to help you stay warm, hydrated, and fed. Keep blankets, snacks, and bottles of water handy. A set of jumper cables can help get a dead battery started, and roadside flares or reflective triangles can alert other drivers that you are stuck on the side of the road.
If you need to get out of the car, slip a reflective safety vest on so other drivers can easily see you. Keep a first aid kit available, have a couple of flashlights and extra batteries, always keep your cell phone charged, and make sure your gas tank full.
We can help you winterize your car by scheduling an appointment with the team at Sweeney Buick-GMC today. Our experienced team will be more than happy to swap out your tires, change your oil, flush your cooling system, and replace cracked belts and hoses to make sure you drive safely in the winter.