Winter’s wicked weather is a natural enemy to your vehicle. It destroys the car exterior, interior and components if you don’t know how to protect them. That’s why we’ve created a handy guide on the ten ways to winterize your car so you can have additional peace of mind this season.
Top 10 Ways to Winterize Your Car for 2019
1. Make Sure You Wash It
There’s nothing better than the satisfaction of having a clean car. Aside from the appearance, keeping it clean extends the paint’s life and protects your mechanical components from failure. Salty, snowy, rainy and dusty roads erode paint. Over time, it causes them to look aged and dull. If you don’t clean out the gunk it leads to a buildup of rust over time.
Besides washing your car regularly, make sure you also protect the paint with the best car wax. A quick layer keeps the fluids rolling right off.
2. Install New Wiper Blades
If you can’t see out the windshield while driving in heavy snow or rain, then you are in danger. That’s why it’s imperative you replace the wiper blades at the start of the season. Typically, you’ll need to install new ones every six months. If you live in a rainy climate, you might find it necessary to do it more often.
Watch for skid marks or scratching noises while the wipers are in motion. These are signs that you should replace them right away. Some heated windshield wipers last longer during freezing temperatures, so it might be worth upgrading if you desire.
3. Gather an Emergency Supply Kit
You don’t want to think about unexpected emergencies, but they happen. The best thing you could do to winterize your car is gather everything you might need, just in case. We recommend having these items in the car.
Tire pressure gauge
Tire patch kit
First aid kit
Kitty litter (for soaking up oil)
4. Opt for Snow Tires
If you plan to drive in the snow on a regular basis, then snow tires will be your best friend. Some people think that having a four-wheel drive vehicle is enough, but we recommend pairing that with a quality set of tires to winterize your car. Snow tires offer a stable ride and provide more traction. It’s definitely worth the investment.
You also want to make sure you check your tire pressure often. Keep in mind that the PSI drops one point every time the temperature goes down ten degrees. Older cars don’t come with a warning light, so we recommend checking pressures at least once per week. It’s also wise to invest in a portable inflator for quick adjustments.
Once the temperatures rise, you’ll want to switch back to regular tires for better fuel economy.
5. Replace or Fill the Fluids
It doesn’t matter if you have your maintenance done at a shop or you do it yourself when you winterize your car, now is the time to check all your fluids.
Here are the most crucial things to consider:
Oil – It’s recommended to switch to thinner oil when you live in regions with freezing temperatures.
Wiper fluid – you need a fluid that’s freeze-resistant to ensure you see clearly.
6. Don’t Forget About Your Battery
When you winterize your car, the battery should be one of the first things you think about. Your engine requires a good battery to get it going in the winter. Take the time to inspect the terminals, fluid and cables for any sign of wear. You want the terminals to fit snug and there shouldn’t be any loose connections. If the fluid level in the battery is low, make sure you refill it with some distilled water. Some batteries tell you the charge level through the built-in hydrometer. Otherwise, you’ll need a handheld hydrometer to tell you how much voltage is remaining.
Alternatively, take your battery to an auto parts store and have it tested for free.
7. Inspect the Four-Wheel Drive
Why winterize your car when you have four-wheel drive? Many people think that’s all you need, but they’re wrong. Yes, the four-wheel drive does provide you with better traction during snow, but it needs to work correctly. That’s why inspection of the system is critical.
To winterize your car with four-wheel drive, you want to have all the systems engaged and give it a test. It’s also vital that your gear and transmission fluids are adequately filled.
8. Check the Coolant Mixture
We briefly touched on fluids earlier, but this one requires a little extra attention when you winterize your car. The mixture of your water and antifreeze should be 50:50. This keeps the coolant from freezing in your radiator. If you purchased a composition fluid, you could check it with a tester sold at the auto parts store.
9. Inspect your Hoses and Belts
Cooler temperatures weaken hoses and belts. That’s why you need to check them over well when you winterize your car. Look for any signs of wear and replace them, if you need to. The last thing you want is to have a belt snap while you drive. If that happens, you’ll be stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and it probably won’t be very warm while you wait.
10. Don’t Let the Gas Tank Drop Below Half Full
This isn’t just a ploy to sell more fuel; it’s essential you keep the tank filled up. There are numerous reasons to do this. First, a full tank reduces condensation. This keeps your gas lines from freezing up on you. Plus, if you do get stranded, don’t you want the warmth of your heater keeping you cozy while you wait. Your running engine can make that happen for you.
Final Thoughts on How to Winterize Your Car
Taking the time to winterize your car is one of the best things you can do to protect your family on the road. Disaster strikes at any time and you’ll want to make sure you are prepared. These steps won’t eliminate breakdowns and malfunctions, but they offer you the chance to catch trouble before it causes disaster. Ensure a smooth ride through the winter with these steps.