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How To Perform Winter Maintenance On A Car In 5 Minutes

Updated on January 7, 2013

Save money from costly repairs, rentals, and tow bills.

If you have not done so yet with the below freezing nights we are having than its past time to winterize your car. We are told all about saving gas, and wear and tear on our cars but I don't see to much information about preparing cars for winter. The weather accounts for a large amount of auto repairs and especially when its cold. Doing these things will not only save you from costly repairs, rentals and tow bills, it will also ad lifespan to a car.

Antifreeze Tester

Antifreeze testers measures the amount of anti-freeze in the engines coolant
Antifreeze testers measures the amount of anti-freeze in the engines coolant

Tips

Placing a broken down cardboard box over the windshield over night will prevent ice from forming on the windshield and save the scrapper.

Worn Belts

Worn belts will appear dry and cracked
Worn belts will appear dry and cracked

Cold weather preventative maintenance only takes a few minutes and saves thousands

Cold weather maintenance for regular gas vehicles is a very quick and simple process. This is an annoying little task that if neglected can cost thousands of dollars. With the vehicle's engine cold (been off at-least 3 hours)

  • Check the anti-freeze by finding to over-flow tank normally located towards the rear left side of the engine. The liquid should be either a bright greenish, or reddish color, and should be up to the full\cold line on the side of the tank. If its clear than it does not have the proper amount of coolant mixture, and will freeze and ruin the vehicles engine. Make a trip to the auto parts store where they can look up your vehicle and give you the proper anti-freeze for your vehicle.

  • Inspect the belts located at the front of the engine. Cold weather can cause belts to dry-rot and break. If a belt is broken it could cause major damage to the engine. Make sure the belts don't appear to be dried out, and cracked. If so they need to be replaced asap.
  • Check all hoses for signs of wear Hoses that are in need of replacing will appear dry and cracked and may flake rubber off if touched. A busted hose can cause the engine to overheat and which would cause significant damage. Replace all faulty hoses before driving or cranking the engine.
  • Windshield washer fluid Replace or refill with a cold weather/non-freezing cleaner. Regular washer fluid can freeze which will crack the reservoir tank and will freeze on the windshield blocking driver vision.
  • Battery The most common cold weather break down is caused by old batteries, freezing weather will cause a weak battery to fail. The battery manufacturers use the term "maintenance free" very loosely as there is a certain amount of maintenance to get the longest life span out of a battery. Check the battery acid levels in the cells by carefully removing the two cell lids with a flat head screwdriver. If the cells are not full, they can simply be filled with regular tap water. Next remove the cables from the battery terminals using the proper sized wrench or ratchet (never use pliers or adjustable wrench on battery terminals) Starting with the negative cable. Clean the battery terminals and cable ends with a wire brush, or battery post cleaner then carefully place the cables back into position, starting with the positive cable.
  • Inspect the tires. It is very costly mistake to set tire pressure to the recommended psi and leave it that way. Tires will expand as the weather turns colder and most times need a little air removed. Check the tire wear weekly, If the tire appears to be wearing more in the center or middle of tire, than it needs to have about 2 to 3 pounds released depending on the amount of wear. If the tire is wearing on the sides (inside and outside) than it will need an additional 2 to 3 pounds added. Front tires that are worn only on the outside or inside is a sign of front end damage and will need to be taken to a front end shop for an alignment.

Tire Wear

From left to right  1. has front end damage 2. Has a high level of air pressure 3. Has a low amount of air pressure  4. Is an example of a faulty suspension or a bad tire
From left to right 1. has front end damage 2. Has a high level of air pressure 3. Has a low amount of air pressure 4. Is an example of a faulty suspension or a bad tire

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