Ready or not, winter will soon be here. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure your car is prepared for everything mother nature has to throw your way. We asked the folks at King Chevrolet Buick GMC (Loveland, CO) for a few tips and here’s what they told us.
Change the Oil
Changing your oil is something you should be doing when you need it, but in the winter months, it’s crucial. You might even need to change the type of oil you’re using altogether. Be sure to consult your owner’s vehicle to find out what viscosity you should use in lower temperatures. You’re going to need a thinner oil in the winter.
Check the Engine Coolant
During average temperatures, you typically want a 50/50 ratio of coolant to water, but in the winter, it should be closer to 60/40.
Check the Battery
Cooler temperature means your engine will need more for your battery, so your car will start, so you want to make sure that the battery is functioning correctly. Making sure that you have enough charge left in your battery is an excellent place to start. The easiest way to check your battery is to turn on your headlights before you start the engine. If you turn your engine on and the lights get brighter, then the engine may be dying. You can test the voltage at home with a voltmeter or have a mechanic do the test for you. Some batteries also may have a built-in hydrometer that measures the voltage. You should also check the cables for cracks and brakes. Finally, ask the mechanic to check your battery fluid.
Change the Washer fluid and wipers
Start by getting a suitable washer fluid with an antifreeze solution as regular fluids won’t cut it during freezing temperatures. You should also replace your windshield wipers every 6-12 months depending on wear and tear. If they’re starting to look a little worse for wear, be sure to put new ones on before a big snowstorm hits. For harsher climates, you may want to pick up a set of winter wipers that protect the wiper’s mechanism.
A Routine Tune-Up
You should get your engine tuned-up every 30,000 miles. If that tune-up is going to happen in the winter, you may want to go early in the season to make sure everything is in good shape. Have your mechanic check the belts and hoses, ignition, brakes, wiring, fan belts, spark plugs, air, and fuel and emission filters.
Check the Defroster
These types of repairs can get costly, but you will need your defroster and heater to work correctly to drive safely in the winter. However, one thing that could save you money on defroster repair is to check for air leaks around doors and windows. Leaks can allow extra moisture that will make it seem that you have a broken defroster.
Have Your Tires Checked
This could mean several things. You might want to invest in snow tires or make sure your current tires are completely worn out. If you tend to drive in harsh conditions in the winter than snow tires are the right choice. For particularly severe conditions, you can buy snow tires with studs. If you don’t want to shelve out money for snow tires, be sure to check the air pressure on your current tires. Refer to your owner’s manual to find out what your tire pressure should be in the winter. Check your tread for wear and tear, as well. Keep in mind that if you do skid on an icy road, don’t slam on your breaks! Take your foot off the gas and turn into the skid until you stop.
Keep Your Tank Filled
You should never let your gas tank get all the way to empty during the winter as the cold weather can cause condensation to form in an empty or need an empty gas tank. The water will drip down into the gas tank and sink to the bottom where it will get into the fuel lines. In the winter, it can also freeze in your fuel lines and block the flow of gas to the engine. Keep your tank at least ¼ to ½ way full at all times.
Have a De-Icer on Hand
It’s not uncommon for your car doors to freeze shut in the winter. Use warm water if you have access to some or buy glycerin to have on hand in an emergency.
Beef Up Your Cars Emergency Kit
If you don’t have an emergency kit in your car, now is the time to get one! If you do have one, you may want to add a few things for the winter. You want to be sure to add a soft-bristled snow brush, plastic scraper, kitty litter or salt, a shovel, flashlight, extra batteries, flares, gloves, a coat, snow boots, and tire chains.