The Halloween candy you haven’t already eaten will leave your house in the sacks of trick-or-treaters, and relatives will soon be rolling up the driveway to share your Thanksgiving feast. These are sure signs that winter is on the way…and with it, cold temps, snowy roads and corrosive salt. It’s time to prepare your car now!
Ensuring that your vehicle can safely maneuver and keep you comfortable through harsh temperatures and wet roads may involve little more work than just checking various systems before you must rely on them.
Inside your car:
√ Check your heater and defroster.
If your engine temperature gauge points above the C, but your interior environment isn’t getting any warmer, you may have a faulty heater coil.
Under the hood:
√ Check for battery corrosion.
If your battery is over three years old, it’s also a good idea to make sure it can hold a charge.
√ Check belts and hoses.
Cold, dry air can make once-pliable belts brittle. If your hoses and belts are showing signs of wear, the change in weather conditions may bring on the tear, rip or break that spells disaster.
√ Check your 4WD system.
Familiarize yourself with how to engage your 4WD system and how it feels (you might want to test it out on roadways a bit rougher than pavement…check your owner’s manual for recommendations).
Outside the car:
√ Check your tire pressure.
In the summer, because hot air expands, we typically recommend inflating your tires one to two psi less than the manufacturer recommendations. In the winter, fill ‘em up. Also, if you’re planning on enjoying the slopes, you might want to invest in snow tires before heading up to Angel Fire.
√ Check your paint.
Nicks and chips in your paint expose panels and other structures to moisture and salt, inviting severe corrosive damage.
Although winter is cold, improper lubrication and coolant levels can lead to overheating and engine damage. Make sure that:
√ Your oil is at an adequate level and the right viscosity for the weather.
Cold air keeps fluids thicker. Your owner’s manual may recommend a different thickness for summer and winter conditions.
√ Your coolant and water mixture is 50/50.
Many coolant solutions come premixed, but if you’re not sure, it may be worth having your system flushed.
As winter approaches, get in the habit of filling up your gas tank when it’s half empty. Keeping a full tank will keep fuel lines from freezing. If you’re going to be encountering extreme temperatures, a fuel additive (like Heet) will provide additional protection.
Preventing winter auto mishaps has more to do with preventing breakdowns. It also means preventing accidents. To avoid crashes, make sure you can see what’s coming:
√ Get new wiper blades.
√ Fill up your windshield wiper fluid…with a formulation made for low temperatures to avoid freezing on contact.
√ Clean your headlamps and replace burnt out bulbs or blown fuses.
Of course, accident prevention is also aided by defensive driving. Expect that to be covered in a later blog.
Prepare for the Worst
Winterizing your car will significantly decrease the chances of being stranded roadside, but be prepared for stalls or accidents. Make sure your car is equipped with an emergency kit. We recommend:
√ Extra clothes, non-perishable food and water
√ Ice scraper
√ Tool kit
√ Jumper cables
√ Spare windshield wiper blades and tire
√ Material to provide traction (e.g sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter)
Also, know the numbers and provisions of your roadside assistance policy. If you don’t have one, get one.
If you have any questions about what maintenance your car needs to ready it for winter driving, contact Quanz Advanced Auto Body. We can look up your manufacturer’s recommendations and schedule any necessary service.