Winter can be more aggravating than necessary when it comes to driving your car due to all the daily maintenance, especially in very snowy and freezing areas. Imagine not having to spend a minimum of 30 minutes heating up and scraping your car or worrying about whether or not your car is going to break down on your way to work or in the dark heading home when you’re tired and hungry for dinner.
There are many preventative things that you can do to winterize a car to keep it in good condition while reducing annoyances from old man winter. Many of it starts with looking under the hood and working outwards from there.
When was the last time you changed your oil? Outside temperatures will affect the internal temperatures, so if it hits below freezing outside, switching to a thinner, less viscous oil will benefit your car immensely. It will be easier for the oil to warm up and lubricate your car when you start it up. Check your owner’s manual for the specific thinner oil to use with your car.
It’s normal for the charge of your car battery to decrease in cold weather-when was the last time you replaced your battery? Batteries tend to last anywhere between 3-5 years so check the voltage by bringing it into a car repair shop to test the charge levels. You should also check if the cables have any cracks or breaks in them and wipe away any corrosion on the battery.
Speaking of corrosion, coolant also protects the engine from corrosion and requires a winter ratio of 60% antifreeze to 40% water. Use an antifreeze with ethylene glycol, which has a higher boiling point before it gets cold out. Check out the belts and hoses too to see if they are losing their integrity with cracks or breaks and replace as needed.
Heat Your Car
Does your heating system even work? Can your windows get defrosted? Check these out, if your car can’t heat itself, it could be from low coolant levels, air pockets, an open thermostat, defective control valve, plugged, heater core, inoperative airflow control, or some sort of electrical problem. Either way, having the ability to heat your car is imperative when it comes to freezing temperatures or ice on the windshield preventing you from seeing clearly safely.
Warming Up Your Engine
Some people don’t let their cars heat up and some let it idle for far too long. At the very least, let your car idle for a minute to let the engine oil eat up, thin out, and flow better to lubricate the different components of the engine. Then drive carefully without blasting your heat until the temperature gauge moves up to prevent overheating the engine before it is ready to go.
Since running your car uses gasoline, keep your gas tank full and at a minimum, at half tank. This also lessens the chance of you running out of gas in the freezing cold and if you end up getting stuck on the side of the road for a while, you’ll have enough gas to start your car occasionally and run your heat to keep you warm.
While your car heats up, it’s the perfect time to wipe all the snow and scrape all the ice off it completely. Use a sturdy ice scraper with a brush for easier removal. In order to skip the windshield scraping, get a windshield cover to use, which usually also includes covers for your side mirrors too. We all hate trying to scrape a tiny area without pushing the mirrors out of place.
The windshield fluid should include antifreeze to help clear off grime and snow. In addition, if your windshield wipers are streaky, replace them so you can have clear view as you drive. Flip the wipers up when you park and it’s snowing so they don’t freeze to the windshield.
Lock Key Holes
When it’s freezing outside, keyholes can seal shut from ice. Use a glycerin for de-icing, or use a silicone spray or door-lock lubricant to prevent that from happening. If you use glycerin, keep it on you or somewhere outside of the car because it’s useless if you can’t access it.
How are the treads on your tires? Get those checked out and inflated to the proper PSI as cold air deflates tires a bit. Using four snow tires that are correctly mounted will help so much with traction, especially if the tires have studs, which are optimal for rural driving. Don’t leave snow tires on in the summer as it weighs down your car unnecessarily. If you prefer, just using all-season tires will be fine but you won’t get the best traction available.
Exterior and Interior Care
Wash your car regularly to prevent corrosion and use a wax to reduce vulnerabilities. Don’t to wash the wheel wells and undercarriage too. For the interior, use rubber all-weather floor mats to prevent the floorboards from soaking from wet shoes and boots.
Lastly, but very importantly, keep an emergency kit in your car. Who knows whether the weather or your car will render you stuck on the side of the road for an unknown amount of time but if it does, you can be prepared. Stock your emergency kit with food, water, flares, blankets, extra clothes, flashlight, first aid kit, shovel, extra gloves, hat, boots, jump cables, a colored cloth for notifying emergency vehicles that you need help and anything else you might need.
If you need a skilled mechanic to help winterize your car, trust in AAMCO Minnesota for a 36 Point ProtectCheck inspection. Schedule an Appointment with any of our AAMCO Minnesota locations for a diagnostic test today.