Taking care of your vehicle during the cold, winter months

by admin on January 5, 2011

Winterize your vehicle

Winterize your vehicle

The winter season can be harsh on a vehicle but a little preventative maintenance is better than being stranded out in the cold.  Here are a few things you can do to keep your car running without problems in the winter months.

1)  Get a tune-up on your vehicle.  A tune-up is needed once a year (check your owner’s manual for the recommended interval) but the best time to get one is during the winter.  Your car will start up better if you had a tune-up.

2)  Use lower grade oil during the winter.  If the oil is too thick, the engine does not get the proper lubrication.  See your owner’s manual for the recommended oil grade for winter season.

3)  Check and maintain antifreeze, also called coolant, levels. It keeps the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temps and from boiling over in the summer. It also lubricates the moving parts, like the water pump.  It is suggested that you put at least 50% antifreeze in your radiator.

4)  Check your vehicle’s battery.  Having a poor battery can result in bad starting conditions in your car.  Look for cracks and brakes in your cable or have a mechanic check it to make sure your battery is good.

5)  Look for deterioration on belts and hoses.  You want to check wear on hoses such as hardening and softening.  Give a good squeeze to check for leakage, cracks, or other damage on the exterior of the hose to determine if they need to be replaced.  Also check your car’s serpentine belt for cracks, cuts, pieces missing, or if it is noisy when running.

6)  Get quality windshield wipers and windshield washer fluid with anti-freeze solution to ensure you have good visibility.

7)  Check the heater and windshield defroster for proper operation. It is a good idea to check the air-conditioner, which speeds up the defrost process.

8)  Check your tire pressure as air pressure in a cold tire drops (read your owner’s manual to find the proper tire inflation). Tire pressure is important during the winter due to low traction in wet or snowy road conditions. It will also help protect against wheel damage when your vehicle drives over potholes. While you’re at it, check the spare tire for proper inflation too.

9)  Carry a roadside kit in your car. This can prove invaluable in an emergency. There are preassembled kits you can purchase or consider carrying: Flashlight, Flares, First-Aid Kit, Jumper Cables, Tool Kit, Tire Chains, Warm Clothes, Towel, Ice Scraper and Water.

You can do much of this on your own but it is a good idea to take your vehicle to a reliable mechanic to ensure your car is running smoothly.

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