More than 70 percent of motorists admit that they do not have their cars winterized in preparation for inclement weather, according to a survey conducted by the Car Care Council.
- Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
- Motorists should keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
- It’s also good to allow your car a little more time to warm up when temperatures are below freezing to let the oil in the engine and transmission circulate and get warm.
- If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
- Make sure heaters and defrosters work properly.
- Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
- For antifreeze, the owner’s manual will have usage specifications but the mixture of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is typically 50:50. As a reminder, don’t make the mistake of adding 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.
- Very cold temperatures will reduce a vehicle’s battery power so it’s important to keep the connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Unfortunately, batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely. If your vehicle’s battery is three years old or more, it’s wise to replace it.
- Have the brakes checked. This braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
- Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
- Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and that headlights are properly aimed.
- Cold weather can affect the life of windshield wipers. Freezing temperatures can make the rubber hard and brittle and increase the potential for cracks. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield should be changed.
- Some manufacturers offer special winter blades that have a rubber boot covering the arm assembly to keep snow and ice out.
- Consider using cold weather washer fluid.
- Be diligent about changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter.
- Consider changing to a “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Using a low-viscosity oil in winter will flow more easily between moving parts when cold.
- Drivers in sub-zero driving temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
- Lastly, don’t forget your winter emergency kit that should include an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blankets, extra clothes, candle/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks, gloves, a first aid kit and needed medication.
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