9 Tips to Make Sure your Car is Ready for Winter, its not too Late!

Winter can be one of the harshest seasons for your vehicle. The severity of winter depends on where you live, for instance San Diego, CA is far less harsh then Milwaukee, WI.  The newer the car the less maintenance it may require but it still can benefit from these tips. Look over these suggestions and have a safe winter driving season and, maybe, save some money too.

1. Make sure you have a new Oil Change – Even if your vehicle isn’t quite due for an oil change, now’s a good time to do an oil change. With older vehicles lighter weight oil can be used to keep your vehicle’s engine parts better lubricated during the winter. Newer cars use lighter weight oil year-round.

2. Keep Your Fuel Tank Above Half a Tank – The minimum is a quarter of a tank but a half tank is better for safety reasons. On older vehicles, this was done to ensure the fuel lines did not freeze. While it doesn’t happen as often with new vehicles it can still happen so why not ensure it doesn’t. In addition, during winter driving it’s a good idea to be prepared in case you become stranded.

3. Put Snow Tires On if Applicable or New Tires if Needed – Winter driving conditions mean you want to have good traction. Depending on where you live and what you drive snow tires are often a good investment. In some areas where snowfall is minimal you can away with a solid all season radial tire. Make sure all tires have adequate tread and are rotated for snow driving. Your local auto mechanic can advise you of correct tread placement depending on whether you have front or rear wheel drive.

4. In Addition with your Tires Watch Your Tire Pressure – Watch your tire pressure, which can drop below factory recommended PSI rating when the temperature drops. When you keep your tires properly inflated your will get better fuel economy, and it will also help against flat tires.

5. Change your Windshield Wiper Blades – Changing your wiper blades at the start of the winter season will ensure they are new and ready to go. Winter wiper blades do a better job of pushing the slush off your windshield and scraping away the ice. Remember to scrape ice off the windshield before driving to minimize wiper wear and increase visibility.

6. Check Your Fluids and Keep them Full – Make sure your windshield washer fluid is topped up with winter fluid, there is nothing more annoying than running out when you need it. Some of your other vehicle’s fluids are affected by winter conditions. Inspect your vehicle’s cooling system, and every year you should do a coolant flush. Cooling system failure is the main reason for engine related breakdown, which can lead to costly repairs. You’ll need to add antifreeze at a ratio of 50/50 antifreeze/water or pre-mixed antifreeze. 

7. Check Your Battery – Older batteries can have trouble during the winter months with the cold. Make sure your terminal posts do not have any corrosion, as corroded posts can make it harder for the battery to start the car. In extremely cold weather the life expectancy of the battery can be shortened so you may want to invest in a cold weather battery. Finally, make sure you always have jumper cables, just in case your battery goes dead.

8. Carry an Emergency Kit – Your emergency kit should include cold weather gear such as hats and gloves, jumper cables, flares, flashlight, and basic tools. If you travel long distances make sure you have blankets and food and water.

9. Use a Battery Warmer – Keeping your battery warm during the winter months, especially in harsh colder climates, will lead to longer battery life and make sure your engines starts each time you need it.

So with a little cold weather maintenance you can make sure your vehicle survives the winter season, is safe, and worry free!

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