Winterizing Your Car Basics
Winterizing your car with some important Preventive Maintenance procedures is by far the most important step you can take to prevent breakdowns and increase the life expectancy of your car. This applies to all makes and models and are very easy to follow even if you have two left thumbs. With freezing temperatures and chemicals on the road there are ways to beat old man winter from taking down your vehicle when you need it the most.
Check your Antifreeze Level Protection.
Your engine coolant is one of the most important fluids in your engine. If it isn't mixed properly and has more water than antifreeze you're in for trouble and in for a huge repair bill. Make sure it's mixed at least 50% water and 50% antifreeze. A handy tool to test the coolant protection is available so it can be adjusted if required. Garages have this tool or you can get your own at any parts store.
Changing your coolant along with a flush procedure every 2 years is recommended. Coolant breaks down and becomes acidic which eats away at gaskets and engine parts, so a flush and change will prevent this from happening.
Check Your Tires
Checking your tire condition, tire pressure and tread depth is important to keep you on the road (literally). Going cheap on tires will come back to haunt you when you hit a heavy snowfall. Investing in 4 mud and snow winter tires will give you the confidence you need to keep you rolling.
Tire pressure is the most important check you can make especially when they are cold since you lose tire pressure in cold weather.The National Highway Transportation Safety Board recommends 2/32" tread depth to be safe. I would at least double that recommendation to keep ahead of road hazards and flats.
Change Your Wipers
There's nothing worse than driving through a snow storm with a streaky wiper. You want to install a winter wiper blade that won't gum up with snow and ice. Winter blades have a solid wrap of rubber around the entire body so snow and ice can't accumulate around the wiper frame. Every winter season calls for wiper blade replacement so you won't get caught driving blind through an ugly snow storm.
Check Your Windshield Washer Fluid
Make sure you have winter washer fluid meaning it will not freeze when the temperature drops below freezing. Never add water to your washer reservoir. Also check your washer nozzles for proper operation before you leave home. You don't want to be reaching around and wiping off your windshield while driving because of plugged up or defective washer nozzles. Carry an extra jug of washer fluid in the trunk because you'll wish you had when you run out.
Other important checks for winterizing your car include:
-Cleaning battery posts. Sulfation build up (that green stuff) will cause resistance and a no start condition when the demands of cold weather hits. It doesn't hurt to get a battery load test as well. This will tell you what kind of condition your battery is in and will possibly save you a service call.
Do you belong to a Auto Club? I think they're a great investment. I locked my keys in my truck one time and was quite impressed with the service. They have all the right tools for breaking into a vehicle. Not only do they give you confidence but save you from worrying about what to do if you break down. Check out your local automobile association for more details.
-Checking the belt tension and condition. check for any deterioration and proper belt tension. Some front wheel drive vehicles require special tools to change a fan belt. My GM 3.4 liter needs a hoist to suspend the engine in the air to remove the front motor mount so the belt can be replaced. "When in doubt change it out"
-Engine, transmission and power steering oil levels. Check oil levels and change oil according to your vehicle owner's manual. Know your fluids and where to check them.
Blast From The Past: Why it's important to know your vehicle.
I remember when I worked at a busy truck stop and this nice young couple stopped saying their transmission was not shifting properly. I could not even look at it being very busy but asked if they checked the transmission oil level. They told me it was right up. The next day after they paid for a hotel room I checked the trans level and it was right down below the stick. It took a few liters of oil and shifted fine after that.
The driver thought the power steering oil reservoir was where you checked the transmission level. The car owners were embarrassed to say the least. They had learned an important lesson to learn the basics of their vehicle and prevent unnecessary breakdowns.
-Inspect coolant hoses for leaks and that spongy feeling. The rubber will eventually breakdown on coolant hoses so they have to be checked out on a regular basis for leakage and a soft spongy feeling which indicates it's time for replacement.
These are basic checks when it comes to winterizing your car but so important when it comes to preventing a breakdown on your vehicle. Every Fall is a good time to carry out these checks. Winter is a killer on vehicles that owners neglect to get checked over. These steps are for the most part inexpensive and will greatly reduce the odds of an unexpected failure.
Here are some other posts you might be interested in:
How To Choose The Right Auto Repair Shop
How To Be Environmentally Responsible While Maintaining Your Vehicle
Tire Care Precautions