Sunday, October 14, 2007

Winterize your Car

Winter is fast approaching and its getting time to start getting your car ready for those cold months. So I thought that I'd share with you some of the best tips that I have found.

1. Change your oil. In the winter most cars use a thinner oil than in the summer. Yes thinner. The cold temps outside will cause your oil to thicken and if its too thick then it makes it hard for the oil to work properly. Check your owners manual for the right oil weight that you need for winter months.

2. Check your battery. Make sure that the post are clean and tightly connected. Also check to make sure that you battery doesn't need water, yes they have water in them. If your battery is several years old it might be wise to have a mechanic check it out too.

3. Windshield wipers and washer fluid. A lot of people use plain water for their washer fluid in the summer months. This will not be a good idea in the winter as that water is sure to freeze not only on your window, but in the reservoir also which may cause it to crack. Instead replace that water with a good winter washer fluid. Also change your windshield wiper blades. You don't want to be in the snow with bad wipers and not see clearly. Wipers usually last 6 months to 1 year.

4. Check your tires. If you live in areas that have a lot of snow you may have a set of snow tires too. Everyone should check tires for proper tire pressure and check to see that all four tires have good tread. The tire will have the proper pressure written on them to help prevent under/over filling. Don't forget to have your spare tire checked. They tend to be forgotten and if the time comes that you need it, the tire may be dry rotted and unusable.

5. Get your 4wd system checked. In the summer time most people never think about their 4wd system. Make sure that the 4wd will engage and disengage smoothly.

6. Belts and Hoses need to be checked too. When you have your oil changed ask the tech to check and make sure that all of your belts and hoses look good and that there are no cracks in them.

7. Antifreeze! You can do this yourself but its really easy to ask for this to be checked at the same time you get your oil changed. You want to have a 50-50 mixture of antifreeze and water. You definitely do not want to have too much water in your radiator. This could be a major repair job if the water were to freeze. New cars also use a special antifreeze so check to make sure what type your car needs. If the mixture is not 50-50 then your cooling system will have to be drained, flushed, and refilled.

8. Emergency Kits. This could be a life saver if you were to become stranded in the cold. Some essential items you should pack are:

  • blankets
  • extra boots and gloves
  • extra winter clothes
  • water, non perishable food, and snacks
  • ice scraper
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • small shovel
  • windshield washer fluid
  • wiper blades
  • flares
  • jumper cables or boost box
  • small tool kit
  • tire chains (in extreme snowy or icy areas)
  • tire pressure gauge
  • spare tire (make sure its checked and in good condition)
  • tire changing equipment
  • first aid kit
  • paper towels, baby wipes
  • a small bag of salt, sand, or non clumping kitty litter in case you need it for traction
  • a full tank of gas, this is a good way to keep your gas line from freezing
  • cell phone with a car charger

9. Have a plan. You should have a plan and know what to do in case you become stuck or stranded. Try to let someone know what way you are taking to/from work so that if you don't arrive in a timely manner they would know where to look. NEVER leave your car unless you know with absolute certainty how far help is. Light two flares and situate them at each end of your vehicle to call attention to your plight. Put on the extra clothes and use the blanket to stay warm. If you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes for each hour you’re waiting for help.

10. Never use hot water on icy windows, they WILL crack and need to be replaced. Instead use cold water and/or an ice scraper. You can also spray some silicone on your door hinges (and locks too) and wipe off the excess this will help keep them from freezing shut.

Have a tip not listed? Add it to the comments section so that we can all be ready for winter.


kailani said...

Very good tips! Nothing worse than getting stuck on the side of the road!

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