Some winter preparations merely require that you turn things on/off (before you need them) or do a visual check, and if everything works and looks as it should, there’s no need to do anything else. However, if your winterizing checks reveal that your car’s performance or reliability may be compromised by inclement weather, you may need to make some minor investments.
Being able to control your car on wet or icy roads is crucial to driving in the winter. Since snow typically melts in Albuquerque by 11 am, a healthy all-season tire is usually sufficient for city driving. However, if you live in the foothills or frequent the ski resorts, snow tires should probably be on the list of winter supplies. If you choose to get winter tires, stick with the factory recommended size, which can be found on the driver-side door jamb.
With any tire—all-season or snow—the key to optimizing traction is tire pressure, and most manufacturer’s recommend inflating the tire three to five psi higher than the recommended psi for summer/all-season driving. But getting to that ideal tire pressure takes a bit more than a few extra seconds at the compressor.
Tire pressures are supposed to be measured cold—when the tire is at the same temperature as the outdoor air. If you park in an insulated garage or check your tire pressure after you’ve been driving all afternoon, you’re not getting the right measurement. To properly check your tire pressure, you will need to measure before daily driving (the earlier the better, before outside temps start to climb) starts after parking outside. From this cold tire measuring, add three to five psi to the recommended inflation when you next hit the station.
Stranded on the side of the road in freezing temperatures is not the time you want to find out that, despite the cold, your engine overheated. If your winterizing preparations revealed low oil or coolant levels, it’s time to top off. Make sure the oil you get is the recommended viscosity for low temperatures…and while looking that up in your owner’s manual, check to see if your vehicle is one that requires manufacturer-brand antifreeze. If it is, don’t substitute. While you may think that coolant is coolant, using something other than what is specified in the manual could void warranties if anything were to happen to your engine.
Because average temperatures in January, our coldest month, are still in the 30s, it’s not very likely that your fuel lines will freeze, making fuel additives necessary. However, if you are traveling to colder climes to the north, a fuel additive (any reputable brand will do) at fill-up will help you avoid startup failures.
If you windshield wipers smeared the water across your windshield rather than squeegeed it out of view this past monsoon season, it’s time for new ones. (If you can’t remember that far back, err on the side of caution). When possible, replace your wiper blades with those made by your vehicle manufacturer. If you can’t find them and don’t want to make a special trip to the dealership, Rain-X® blades are good, too.
If you need other winterizing preparations or have product questions, please call or come see us.