Top Ten Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle For Winter
1. Battery and Terminal Check – Have your battery checked once a year, especially if it’s more than two years old. A qualified technician will perform a quick load test to make sure it’s in good shape to keep you on the road. Also, you should check your battery’s terminals and cable connectors regularly. If you see corrosion, a simple mixture of baking soda and water will clean it off. In Michigan, faulty batteries and/or faulty terminal connections cause more car starting problem than any other factors.
2. Radiator Check – Have your coolant strength and level checked by a certified technician. The recommended protection is for 36 below 0. The level, condition and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled!
3. Oil & Fluids – Check engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid and transmission fluids and top off or change when necessary. Remember, it is best to keep your car’s gas tank more than half full during those cold winter months.
4. Belts & Hoses – Check belts and hoses for cracks, leaks and bulges as well as be sure all clamps are secure. The belts and hoses should fit tight and be firm, not too soft or brittle.
5. Tires – It is recommended that your car be fitted with winter tires (also known as snow tires) to ensure the best grip to the snowy and icy roads. Winter tires are more soft and flexible than other tires and have tread patterns specifically designed for the winter conditions. Don’t forget to have tire wear inspected and always have air pressure checked when tires are cold.
6. Lights & Signals – Run through all signal and light functions to ensure they are active. Be sure to replace any bulbs that are not working properly so that your car remains visible in poor weather conditions.
7. Windshield Washer & Wipers – Check wipers for wear and make sure the reservoir is filled with a non-freezing washer solvent during winter months. Twenty-four percent of all wiper blades checked before winter are found to be worn or damaged. Most blades need to be changed once every six to 12 months. It is best to upgrade to strong and durable winter wiper blades to help reduce ice and slush build up as you drive.
8. Heater/Defroster – The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Check the front and rear defrost functions before the first freeze.
9. Engine Performance – Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop because cold weather only makes existing problems worse. Replace any dirty filters including air, fuel, Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV), etc.
10. Emergencies – Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a first aid kit, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight and a cell phone in your car at all times during the winter. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box just in case you become stranded for long periods of time. Never leave the house without being properly dressed in warm winter apparel even if you are just traveling down the block.
All of these tips are suggested to compliment your car’s preexisting functions that make winter driving possible. Always be sure to prepare your car for the season’s unpredictable weather to ensure the safety of you and all your passengers. If you need assistance performing any of the tests and winter adaptations as described see your local ASE certified technician.…