Snow looks lovely in pictures, but when it comes to what it can do to our cars, not so cute, am I right? We all dread the ice covered roads, the uselessness of our breaks, waking up to not see our cars but a pile of snow and just praying that our car is under there. And of course, the fun of unburying said car.
We do have to live with it, though, and that is why we need to prepare for it. Most importantly, prepare our vehicles for it.
Our vehicles suffer greatly with the damaging tolls of a cold winter, and therefore we need to be responsible about it. Here are some of the things you need to do to make sure you and your vehicle survive the freezin’ seesin’. Get it?
The first thing you need to do is thorough check up of all the basics and especially of the fluids your vehicle depends on for proper function in very low temperatures. What fluids you say? Basics? Ok.
Antifreeze: The name is self explanatory. It’s basic. Antifreeze or coolant, serves a few purposes and the most important is keeping the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temps. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water is ideal. When mixed 50/50, water no longer freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, water will freeze at temperatures colder than -35 degrees Fahrenheit. However, purchasing a tester at your local auto parts store will always be more accurate about how much low temp your coolant can take. Safest choice.
Oil: For colder temperatures, switch over to a thinner, less viscous oil than you would on regular temperatures. For example if you’re used to 10W-40, a 5W-30 will be a lot better for freezing temperatures. Your engine’s temperature WILL be affected by the weather, and oil is vital for engine function, so do not overlook this. Another way to put it, go with synthetic oil. This is manmade oil, engineered and specially formulated with additives to provide improved wear and cleaning properties, along with other performance enhancement like freer flow at low temperatures and doesn’t require any time to warm up, providing crucial and immediate protection to the engine’s moving parts from the get go.
Battery: As you may know, battery will not give you a heads up before dying, so be specially prepared with this. Be sure to check you battery life before the temperature sinks so you know what you’re dealing with. Most batteries need to be changed every 3 years approximately, and extremely cold temperatures can reduce a car battery’s life by up to 50 percent so if you’re batter is reaching that time, you should be extra careful about it and check how much longer it would live in the winter. Also, check for the connections and make sure they’re free of corrosion.
Windshield wiper blades and fluid: This might sound like a lame precaution, but if you’ve ever been driving in a blizzard with broken windshield blades, you know it’s not lame. Visibility while driving is as important as any other function in your car. Make sure to check it’s all good and working. Also, depending on how low temperature goes where you live, consider changing your blades to versions that are made for the harsh winter weather. If you live in -30° weather, you’ll need a de-icier windshield fluid.
Tires: Of course, tires. Check the tire pressure. A properly inflated tire will help guarantee better traction in wet, snowy conditions and your tires will lose pressure weekly in cold temperatures so be sure to check that regularly. Also, consider snow tires if you get a lot of snow or ice on the roads. These will do a far better job in getting a good grip than regular tires. Don’t forget to also check your spare.
Breaks: Make sure your breaks are in OPTIMAL condition. Breaking is very important when driving in snow and ice.
Fuel injector cleaner: Adding a fuel injector cleaner while fueling up your car will help you clean the injectors, improve fuel mileage, and eliminate rough idling and difficulty starting. Also, water in your tank could freeze up in low temperatures, so you might want to chose a fuel injector cleaner that is also designed for antifreeze and remove water from the fuel system.
**DIESEL: If you run on Diesel, remember that diesel fuel lines can tend to get a gel-y consistency in the winter. You’ll want to add a supplement that will keep your fuel from gelling.
Remember to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full to diminish the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
Even though there is a lot of general information that can meet the needs of most if not all vehicles, we recommend 100% that you check with your vehicle manufacturer or trusted mechanic for specific recommendations for your particular case. Also, give your vehicle a general check before facing the winter. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. This all needs to be met in advanced.
An extra tip? Keep an emergency kit in your car. Things you might find useful?
- A flashlight, flares and first aid kit.
- Extra windshield washer fluid.
- A brush or ice scraper.
- Extra coolant.
If you prepare in advanced, handling your car in the winter can be easy. And safety will be assured. Make this an easy ritual and keep you and your family safe