More than any other time of year, the weather takes its toll on cars heavily in winter. Everything from being stranded out in the cold, not having too many passing vehicles that can stop and help you out, the added costs for towing and spares and repairs are instances that you will want to avoid. Cars operate well in the warmer months as the battery, fuel, other oils and even the tires function well and have a lot of tolerance for error, so, having minor problems at those times in the car may not even be noticeable. Such minor issues are multiplied several times when the temperature drops. Here are a few tips that will help you winterize your vehicle and keep it in top order.
If you need to get an overall tune up done for your car, get it done before the cold sets in as the cold magnifies even small issues like knocking, hard starts and rough idling.
- The cold freezes battery performance, so get the battery charged and make sure it is not too worn. If it is, invest in a fresh battery.
- Clean out, drain and completely flush out the cooling system and put a new batch of antifreeze in. Do this regularly every once in two years.
- Heaters, wipers and defrosters are what will keep you comfortable out in the cold, so make sure that they are in good working order. Replace the wiper’s blades just before the cold season starts and fill the washer fluid with a winter specialty type.
- Tires are what will either keep you on, or throw you off the road, so make sure they are ready. Tire tread and wear should be checked make sure they are deep enough, if you can, get winter tires or chains if ice is prevalent in your locality. You should check and maintain the right amount of tire pressure, so do it once a week without fail.
- Apart from your own sense of judgment, the brakes are your most important safety equipment. Get them checked and tuned; if you need new brake pads, don’t put it off for next time.
- Engine oil and air filter is next in line. Sludge can be a major source of pain for your engine in winter, so get that drained out and cleaned and a fresh batch of oil poured in. The air filters and intakes should also be checked, the air is a little heavier in the cold, so have that checked as well and cleaned thoroughly. There are specialist winter engine oils called winter weight that you can consider if you live sub zero climates.
- Transmission and exhaust are important for a smooth and efficient ride. Carbon monoxide is a lot more dangerous in the cold as you will do most of the driving with the windows rolled up tight.
- Never run the tank dry or even in reserve. Always have a good amount of fuel, sometimes up to half a tank in the car at all times. It will keep the car free of moisture in the form of condensation or freezing in extreme cases.
Apart from these things, make sure the spare tire in the boot is also in good condition. Stock some basic supplies in the car like a small can of fuel, a flare, a flashlight, some dry foods, a couple of bottles of water, change of clothes and a blanket, a first aid kit, ice scrappers, matches, candles, snow brush and a set of jumper cables. The list may seem a bit excessive, but you can never be too cautious when you are out in the cold.