Winterizing Your Car

Thursday, January 14 at 10:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

The winter season is in full swing. Harsh storms and plummeting temperatures can take a toll on your family, your home, even your body. It's also hard on something else that's vital to your day-to-day existence — your car.

But, just as you prepare your body to withstand the harshness of winter with heavy coats and gloves, you can also prepare your car for winter by taking these important steps:
 
  • Check your oil. The oil in your car will change based on temperature changes. As a result, some car manufacturers will recommend you use different types of oil in the winter. Check your owner's manual to learn more about the recommendations for your car.
  • Check your tires. Colder weather can impact the pressure that's in your tires, so be sure to regularly check the tire pressure and add air when necessary.
  • Think about snow tires. If you drive a lot or live in an area that gets lots of snow, you may want to consider having snow tires put on your car. Snow tires provide better traction than all-season tires. If you don't have snow tires, it's important to make sure that your all-season tires are in good condition and the treads are not worn.
  • Check your battery. The last thing you want to happen in cold weather or a bad storm is to have your car not start. Since colder temperatures reduce your battery's capacity, it's important to replace older batteries. You can determine the age of your battery by locating the manufacturing date on the battery. If you’re unable to locate the date, then the next time your car is being serviced ask your mechanic to tell you the age of the battery. You should also monitor the fluid level in your battery and replace it according to the recommendations in your owner's manual. Also be sure to check your battery cables for cracks and breaks. If you’re not familiar with doing these tasks, you might have your mechanic do this at your next service check.   
  • Maintain your windshield wipers. Dirt from other cars and heavy snow or ice from storms can make visibility low. Be sure to regularly check and refill windshield wiper fluid and to replace worn blades. Also, be sure to scrape ice and snow off your car with a scraper instead of using your wipers to clear debris.
  • Check your heat and defrost systems. Before colder temperatures or a storm, test your heater and defroster, which are critical in helping you drive safely and comfortably.
  • Keep your gas tank filled. It's always wise to keep your gas tank close to full, but in winter, it's especially important since colder temperatures can create condensation, which can result in water in your gas tank and eventual freezing.
  • Keep your car clean. Salt and dirt can also take a toll on your paint job. Get your car waxed before the start of winter and take your car to the car wash regularly to remove salt or dirt build up.
  • Pack an emergency kit. Even with all your preparation, you never know when a storm can leave you stranded on the side of the road. To prepare for such an emergency, pack a kit that includes: a flashlight, jumper cables, a warm blanket, extra gloves, kitty litter, a snow scraper, windshield washer fluid, as well as water and high-energy snacks. And be sure to have your cell phone battery charged, especially if you go on a long journey.
The fact is, you can't stop winter, but by preparing for it, you'll increase the chances your car won't stop.

Frosty on 1/20/2016 at 10:38 PM
You might want to check your antifreeze too!

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