How to: Winterize your car

January 6th, 2014 by

With the impending storms headed right for us, we wanted to take a few minutes to make sure everyone knew how to winterize their cars. Just as its necessary to put on your hat, scarves and gloves when you leave your home to face these negative temperatures there are a few things you should do for your vehicle to make sure you’re prepared in the event the worst happens.

Winterize your car step #1: Get Supplies
This is the simplest step, keep essential supplies and tools with you in your vehicle. Here are some items you should consider putting in your trunk: A spare tire (and the tools to change a flat), a couple bottles of engine oil, washer fluid, an ice scraper and engine coolant. You should also consider keeping flashlights and flares in the event you get stuck on the road at night with low visibility. You should also put an extra coat and gloves in your trunk along with a blanket to keep you warm in the event your heat won’t work.

Winterize your car step #2: Make sure your 4WD Drive and heating units work
Unless you’ve taken your vehicle off roading, there’s a good chance you have no idea if you’re 4WD works or not. Take a few minutes to test it out! Don’t forget that having 4WD doesn’t mean you can do figure 8s around the parking lot, or drive faster than you normally would. A good thing to remember is: Its four wheel drive not four wheel stop!

For obvious reasons you’re going to want to make sure that your heat and defrosters work.

Winterize your car step #3: Check your belts and hoses, replace your wiper blades
Normally this would be checked during your 30,000 mile tune up. However, if you haven’t had a tune up lately then schedule your tune up today and make sure you ask how everything is holding up since cold weather can weaken belts and hoses. Make sure your wiper blades are up to par! Your wiper blades are made out of rubber and in time they’ll crack, split and deteriorate. A good rule of thumb is to replace them every 6 to 12 months. Another helpful hint is to make sure your wiper fluid is full, when the time comes you can use it to break up snow and ice.
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Winterize your car step #4: Keep your fuel tank and antifreeze full
During the cold winter months, never let your tank run on fumes. Cold and constantly shifting temperatures can cause condensation to form on the walls of a gas tank in the red and will cause water to drip down and into your gas. If this water finds its way into the fuel lines they can freeze, blocking up any flow of gas to the engine.

You’re going to also want to make sure that you keep your antifreeze full. This will prevent your fluid from freezing all the way down to -34.

Winterize your step car #5: Make sure your battery is up to snuff
Car batteries last for three to five years so keep track of how long its been since you got a new one. Remember, winter months are tougher on your engine and make your battery work harder. Check for corrosion. If there’s a white, powdery substance around the terminals you can clean it off easily with baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Make sure you also check the fluid in your battery to make sure it has enough. If its low, fill the holes with distilled water.

Winterize your step car #6: Check your tire pressure and tread
Wet or icy roads can cause accidents in the winter so make sure your tires are equipped to handle adverse weather conditions. Check the air pressure of each tire, deflated tires close up the tread and significantly decrease traction.

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