Preparing Your Car For Winter Weather
First Things First
Even though cars are better able to handle winter weather now than in the past there are still things you can and should do to prepare your car for winter. Many of those things can be done by yourself or with the help of a mechanically inclined friend. Other things can be done for a little expense with the help of a mechanic.
First and foremost you should check your battery. Winter months require more power to crank your car at just the time your battery is producing less current. The chemical reaction needed to create the charge slows down in the colder temperatures. Batteries are one of the things that will go with the first cold snap.
You can bring your battery to a mechanic to check. He can also charge your battery. A more economical choice might be to bring your car to a parts store. These are stores like O’Reilley or Autozone. You can find a list in your phone book.
The staff there will help you check your battery. Staff in a parts store can also help you charge your battery if it needs it. They typically do these things for free. If you need to replace the battery you can do that with less expense at a parts store too.
Many of my family and friends have a battery charger of their own. With it they can check their battery and charge it if they need to. It plugs into their wall outlet. You can check your battery and charge it more easily if you keep track of the charger’s owner’s manual or get another one online.
Hot Areas To Consider
- Belts or hoses
- Gas gage
The Next Step To Prepare Your Car
Next I would check your wiper blades and refill your wiper fluid. Using actual wiper fluid is important to be able to cut through the build-up on your windshield. Good wiper blades and wiper fluid will keep your line of sight clear. Typically wiper blades only last a year.
If you live in a really harsh area you might want to buy wiper blades designed for winter. Again a staff person at a parts store can help you replace wiper blades. Although the blades will be an expense they usually provide the help free of charge.
Digital Tire Gauge
Do you live in an area that has snow storms and a hard freeze most of the winter? You probably want to invest in snow tires. Although they won’t magically keep you from slipping and sliding they do provide more traction.
If you don’t live in an area with harsh winters be sure to check your tire pressure. Cold weather causes the air pressure in your tires to drop. Since you want your tires to have the best contact with the road you want proper tire pressure.
If you have four-wheel drive have it checked with a mechanic. If it isn’t working correctly then it will not provide traction. The mechanic will check if it works smoothly. He will also check if the transmission and gear fluids are at the correct levels.
Check your anti-freeze mixture to see if it is half and half. You can get a cheap kit from the parts store and check it yourself. As a matter of fact you can buy your anti-freeze in the proper mixture. Then you will always know it is half anti-freeze and half water.
Buy a plastic container and start an emergency supply kit for your car. You never know when there will be a situation that requires you to be able to take care of yourself for a period of time. You know the area you live in. You might need blankets, simple snacks, and water at the least. You might need much more extensive supplies depending on your weather.
Change the oil in your vehicle and adjust the weight. In cold weather oil gets thicker. Then your car doesn’t run or doesn’t run as well. Using lower weight oil keeps it thinner so it can move around your engine better. You certainly don’t want to be in a car that won’t start.
Check your belts and hoses they get wear and tear during the year and may be weak. A broken belt means waiting in winter weather for a tow truck. Waiting can be cold and/or uncomfortable so check these before you have a problem.
Keep your gas tank full. This is particularly important when you live in an area with harsh weather. I like to fill up at half a tank. This way if I get stuck because of weather I can run the heater. Even if I don’t run the heater the entire time a heater part of the time is much better. A little gasoline is a good thing. Being stranded with no gas can be frightening for everyone concerned.