Winter is finally here! So that means it’s time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the cold winter days ahead. Eric’s Car Care has compiled a handy checklist to get you ready for winter driving!
1. Check Your Coolant
Antifreeze, also known as engine coolant, is not just for cars driven in climates that experience freezing-cold temperatures. Found in the radiators of all cars, the antifreeze performs a number of important functions. Antifreeze prevents the car from overheating in the summer and from freezing in the winter. It even helps prevent corrosion, which would otherwise develop inside of the metal confines of the vehicle’s radiator. When antifreeze is added to the water inside of a radiator, it raises the boiling point and lowers the cooling point significantly. Adding too much antifreeze is dangerous because it increases the likelihood of a leak. But not adding enough antifreeze can lead to an overheated engine, no matter what season it is. In the winter, low antifreeze levels can even lead to a frozen and cracked radiator or radiator hose.
2. Check Your Battery
Your battery has a tough job during the cold winter months. Your vehicle’s engine requires more power to start when the temperatures are colder and those temperatures make it harder for your battery to provide power.
Before winter gets an icy grip on your battery, have your electrical system tested, including your battery and alternator. Also, check the battery using a voltmeter to make sure it’s in good condition. Your voltmeter should read 12.4 volts or higher. Keep the battery fully charged throughout the winter using a battery charger or maintainer, especially if you make frequent short drives (less than a mile).
3. Fill Your Wiper Fluid
Having a full bottle of windshield washer fluid is essential for winter driving. Many of us have experienced zero visibility when passing a large truck and getting splashed. It really lowers the blood pressure when the washers and wipers clear the muddy mess from your windshield.
4. Replace Your Wiper Blades
When winter comes around, changing your summer wiper blades to winter wiper blades will help protect your windshield against ice, sleet, snow, so you can see the road clearly.
A set of winter wiper blades is invaluable because:
- The rubber on winter blades is specifically designed for extreme weather conditions.
- The runner is also heavy enough to push away snow and ice and resist buildup.
- The blades have fewer moving parts that can freeze up or break in the cold.
5. Inspect Your Tires
Winter is here and it’s vital that you have your car checked- particularly your tires. Let’s be honest, the majority of people wait until the very last minute to take care of this important task, but you shouldn’t. You want to know that your car is ready for winter roads, icy conditions, and snowfall. Part of being a car owner is winterizing your vehicle to keep you safe, as well as your passengers, and everyone else on the road. Sadly, over half of American drivers fail to do this which results in costly accidents and injuries.
6. Change Your Oil
Oil is rated by viscosity, but temperature affects it’s thickness. In cold weather, it gets very dense and might have a hard time at start-up circulating through the system for proper lubrication. However, it’s important the oil you put in isn’t thin enough to run past all the components without properly adhering. In the old days, it was necessary to change the weight/viscosity of oil used from summer to winter, and if you have an older car you might still consider it, but it’s largely unnecessary now.
If you do have to change your oil in the cold, consider the following to make your life a little easier- run the engine for five minutes or so to warm the oil, that way it thins out and drains faster.
7. Check Your Belts & Hoses
Temperature swings are hard on rubber components and when added with the kind of pressure and tension found on a truck’s belts & hoses, even a minor nick or slice can lead to major problems!