Winterization Tips for Your Vehicle

November 9, 2011 at 9:13 AM | Posted in Auto | Leave a comment
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Prepare your vehicle for winter with these tips from Edmunds:

Tire Performance. Snow tires provide the best traction on slick surfaces. If you must use all-season or regular tires, make sure they are in top condition for maximum braking, acceleration, and handling capabilities. In winter’s lower temperatures, the air pressure in a cold tire will drop. Tire pressure is critical to guarantee the best possible contact between the tire and the road. A properly inflated tire will also help protect against wheel damage that might occur if you hit a pothole. Your owner’s manual will provide the correct tire pressure.

  • Four-Wheel-Drive Systems. Make sure the system engages and disengages smoothly, and that there are no strange noises emanating from the drive-train when the system is in use. Check to make sure that the transmission and gear oil levels are correct.
  • Use the Right Viscosity of Oil. Viscosity simply refers to how thick or thin a fluid is. When winter arrives, the outside temperature drops. The colder the oil is, the thicker it will be, and won’t circulate properly in a cold engine.Take the time to warm up your car before driving off.
  • Belts and Hoses. Belts and hoses in modern cars lead long lives, but cold temperatures accelerate the demise of a belt or hose. Have them inspected before winter starts.
  • Windshield Wipers and Washer Fluid. Visibility is key in winter, but is often compromised by precipitation, salt, and build-up on the windshield – not to mention reduced daylight. The life expectancy of a wiper blade is one year. If your car’s blades are older, replace them. Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. Consider adding wiper fluid that has been mixed with anti-freeze.
  • Check the Battery. Batteries give little notice before they die, and always seem to expire at the worst possible moment. Very cold temperatures can reduce a vehicle’s battery power by up to 50 percent. If your vehicle battery is older than three years, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility. Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion. If the posts are corroded, clean them with baking soda, water, and a small wire brush.
  • Use an Antifreeze Mixture. The ideal mixture of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot and cold weather performance can suffer.
  • Heater and Defroster. Check both your heating system and the defrosters for proper operation. One easy way to speed up the defrost process is to turn on the A/C (leaving the temperature dial on warm).
  • Update Your Roadside Emergency Kit. Having a roadside kit doesn’t take up much space and can prove invaluable in an emergency. Things you might want to consider carrying include:
    • A flashlight, flares, and a first-aid kit.
    • Jumper cables and a tool kit.
    • A blanket, warm clothes, hat, and gloves.
    • A bag of sand, salt, or non-clumping kitty litter for added traction when a tire is stuck.
    • A snow brush, ice scraper, and snow shovel.
    • Extra washer fluid.
    • Extra food and water.

Don’t be left out in the cold this winter!  Prepare your vehicle in advance to avoid any uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations.


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