Winter is upon us! Most of us will bundle up properly before leaving the house to combat the cold weather. But what about preparing your vehicle for the winter environment? Many people refuse to make any preparations to their vehicle, and as a result the winter is much harsher for those behind the wheel than it needs to be.
Most people who fail to winterize their vehicle fail for one simple reason. That being they don’t realize what the benefit of it is. So with that in mind, lets go over why winterizing your vehicle is so crucial. Hopefully for those that don’t know, reading this will make driving in winter just a little more bearable.
An oil change may seem simple enough, and due to that same simplicity it is often overlooked or undervalued. But during winter months, it is important for your oil to be clean and have the right viscosity. Oil thickens as it becomes colder and once it becomes too thick it won’t be able to lubricate your engine as well as it needs to. This can cause a number of problems, though the worst is excessive wear and tear on the engines components. You may also notice your transmissions gears slipping if the oil is not lubricated well enough. Overheating would also normally be a concern, but if it’s cold enough to clump your oil up, it’s probably cold enough to keep your engine cool.
When driving with snow or rain, there are few better friends than windshield wipers. They are literally what allow you to see even in some of the worst conditions. There are specialized winter blades which are sturdy enough to push snow aside and help scrape off ice which are well worth the investment. And be sure not to forget the rear windshield wiper if you have one as well. Overall visibility is important, so be sure your blades are working properly and can withstand the next few months of cold weather.
There is nothing worse than getting in your car in the winter only to have it not start. If your battery is old, or you are uncertain, be sure to have the battery inspected and replaced if need be. Cold weather has many negative affects on automobile components and the car battery is not excluded. Remember, without a properly functioning battery, your car wont start, and without a a running vehicle, you have no heat. That’s sort of the entire incentive behind it, and is most likely well worth it for most people.
Belts and Hoses
Hoses and belts can crack easier in cold weather, which is especially a problem for older belts and hoses at the end of their life. Be sure to have these inspected and replaced if need be. If one was to crack without your knowledge, you will possibly lose engine power and fluid levels. This of course can become worse if not noticed over time and you continue to drive with the problem. So it’s better to stop the problem from ever occurring.
Tire pressure in the winter is compromised as tires generally lose 1 pound per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, your tires will not have as much traction if they are not properly inflated. Beyond that driving on a low tire reduces the overall life span of a tire, so to save money in the long run and to avoid any potential problems, inspect your tire manual and inflate to the proper level.
There are of course snow tires which are a worthwhile investment. If you often don’t feel safe driving in snow or on ice because of a lack of control, snow tires might be your best bet. They can be relatively expensive, however they tend to last for some time since wear and tear is not as bad and you only drive on them for a handful of months.
Make sure you have the right mixture of antifreeze/coolant. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want anything liquid in your vehicle freezing, and though it seems coolant is unneeded in winter, it’s still has value. Besides, when liquid freezes it expands and can rupture numerous hoses. Avoid the headache of this down the road by making sure your antifreeze/coolant levels are optimal.
A proper winter emergency car kit is only as good as you make it. As such, make sure yours is as good as they come. You would hate to not have something when you need it, because if a situation arises, there are a number of things you will certainly want. These include, but are not limited to:
- Warm Coat, Pants, Gloves, Boots, Hat
- Water, Non Perishable Food, and Pieces of Hard Candy (in case you need to raise your spirits, also helps to stay warm)
- Quality Ice/Snow Scraper
- Jumper Cables
- Automotive Tool Kit
- Tire Gauge
- Functioning Spare Tire
- First Aid Kit
- Tire Chains
Beyond the above mentioned items, it’s also worthwhile to have a winter emergency plan prepared. What would you do if your car drifted off into a bank and was stuck with few cars that pass by? What if you were stuck and were also out of cell phone distance? In order to avoid or mitigate most problems, preparation and preparedness is the key. So please be sure you know what to do in case you become stuck, lost, or stranded.
Many people only use their 4WD in winter, as such most of the year this function goes unused. Be sure to test and see if it works properly prior to actually needing to use it. Also, make sure anyone who will be driving the vehicle understands how to engage and disengage the 4WD.
Defrost and Heating
The reason for properly functioning defrost and heating should be apparent. But don’t think driving in the winter without a working heater will be easy. If your defrost is based off of the heater, and not an in-window wire unit, than you may not be able to drive your vehicle at all once the windows fog up enough. Not to mention, driving with windows down or simply toughing it out is wretched. 20 degrees Fahrenheit feels much colder when you’re moving 40-60 mph… you’ll certainly hate the drive.
Finally, this may seem rather elementary, but you will always want to ensure your gas tank is filled up. The days of driving around on E, or at a quarter tank need to be left to the summer and spring. If you run out of gas at the wrong time or in the wrong place, it’s going to be a cold walk/wait until you get your vehicle running again. Rather than risk having to hoof it to the nearest gas station when it 10 degrees outside, just keep the tank full. That way, there’ll be no woe or worry. Which is exactly what you want.
At AAMCO Colorado, we want you to enjoy driving this winter. More importantly though we want you to be safe on the road. If you live in Colorado and need a Transmission Service, Radiator Repair, Brake Repair, or any other Auto Repair, please contact your local AAMCO Colorado Location to schedule an appointment. Also be sure to see how we can help winterize your vehicle!