Winterizing Your Car
If your car hasn’t had it’s regular checkup and servicing yet, NOW is the time.
You do not want to be stuck in the middle of a blizzard or in subzero temperatures due to bad hoses, belts, water pumps or spark plug wires etc. It’s best to put in the time and money now to make sure all important components of your vehicle are in proper working order, because the alternative is spending hours in the cold waiting for a tow truck, paying the tow truck and paying to get your car fixed anyway. Think ahead and invest.
Key Items to Check and to Have:
- Tire pressure drops about a pound per ten degrees of temperature. If you do not adjust your tire pressure for cold weather it can jeapordize your cars handling.
- Battery, charging system and belts need to be checked as they can leave your stranded. If you need to replace the battery make sure you get the most powerful one you can to fit your vehicle. The engine is harder to start in the winter because the oil isn’t as fluid as it was in the summer and batteries lose power as temperatures drop, so you’ll need more power to start your engine but you’ll have less power to do so, so you must make sure your battery is in good condition or replace it with a more powerful one.
- Cooling systems must be checked for leaks and the proper antifreeze (50-50 mix) must always be kept at a proper level. The rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down over time and need to be renewed. So, at a minimum, change your engine’s coolant at the interval recommended by your manufacturer. Draining out the coolant and refilling the system also removes dirt and rust particles that can clog up the cooling system and cause problems.
- Windshield wipers with the rubber cover that keep ice from collecting on the blade are popular but make sure to take them off in the spring as winter wipers are heavy and if you use them all year long you will prematurely wear out the wiper motor. Most importantly: Turn OFF your wipers BEFORE shutting off the engine. Water freezes overnight, if your blades freeze to the windshield, when you go to start your car, the wiper motor may burn out trying to get them back to the “rest position”.
- Gas tank levels should be kept at as close to full as possible at all times. This is more as a safety precaution than for mechanical reasons. If you become stranded on the side of the road or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck, you will only have heat for as long as you have fuel. Be prepared.
- Windshield washer reservoir must be kept full to keep the windshield clear. It is a good idea to keep some extra fluid in your trunk in case you run out. It is best not to cheap out when it comes to washer fluid. That half frozen stuff the local gas station may suggest it is good to -30C but you will one day sadly find out it will freeze at 0C.
- Weight is important in the winter and a couple bags of sand near the rear axel can make all the difference. Many vehicles these days are cute and compact but also light as a feather. You have little chance of getting grip and stop sliding out of control with todays cars. Adding just a few pounds extra weight to your car will not only add more traction to your car, but it will also ease the pressure on your cars pre-installed emergency response mechanisms.
- Rear-window defroster should be in good working condition. Especially in the winter when everyone on the road has slightly less control due to slick conditions, you must be able to see clearly out all windows and all mirrors.
- Tires should be changed to the winter specific variety. They are made with specific tread and material to build traction during winter driving. However, do not forget to change the tires back to All Season tires or standard tires in the spring through summer. The heat can completely warp the winter specific material and you will end up with lumpy or even worse exploded tires. Don’t be fooled by All Season tires, although they are budget friendly and less of a pain, they only provide a fraction of the benefits proper winter tires provide.
- Cell phones are a modern day necessity. Gone are the days of walking a mile in a blizzard to the nearest gas station to call for a tow truck. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you leave the house and get in your car.
- Basic supplies to invest in are: snow brush and ice scraper, shovel, bag of sand, extra windshield washer fluid, blanket, extra clothes, boots and a first aid kit.
Message from Timbers
We encourage everyone to use some of our tips and let us know how it worked for you. If you need more detail or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, if you lack the time to do the work yourself, drop us a line or give us a call and we’ll give you a hand with the project of your choice at a fair price as always!