Winterizing your car can save you a lot of trouble, money, and help ensure your safety in the long run. Knowing where to start or how to properly and effectively winterize your vehicle can be a bit confusing, luckily the DMV has a few pointers on how to begin and what exactly to do.
When you’re looking to winterize your car you can begin by reading your owner’s manual and follow the recommended servicing schedule to keep your car well maintained. Have someone who’s car-savvy take a look at your car, that way you’ll know if you have to replace any type of filters, brakes or belts. The colder weather can change the way your car runs if not taken care of properly; making your car’s current problems much worse, a poorly running engine cannot perform at its best and can cause the burning of more gasoline. Change your oil and air filters as often as your owner’s manual suggests, change these things more often if you drive more than the average mileage per day or take frequent trips. As the temperature drops, purchase a bottle of fuel deicer and put it in your gas tank to prevent freezing. Keeping your gas tank full the majority of the time always allows you keep moisture out and not need to run to the gas station in case of a weather emergency. Make sure the heater and front/rear defroster are working at their best, so you have clear visibility and comfort for both the driver and passenger. Have your battery checked; having a weak battery during winter weather can reduce the battery’s lifetime. If you aren’t too sure of how to go about checking the battery, your local mechanic or your local car care/parts store may be able to help.
Exhaust fumes can be harmful to your car and the environment, have your exhaust system checked to make sure it’s functioning properly and has no leaks or problems. The undercarriage of your car should also be inspected while on a lift to ensure nothing is damaged or could be damaged with the winter weather. Maintain your car’s cooling system by flushing and refilling it as recommended by your owner’s manual. Windshield wiper blades should be replaced regularly; there are many types of blades that you can purchase specifically for winter weather. Making sure you have windshield washer solvent can make your visibility much better. Having extra solvent and carrying an ice scraper in your trunk can make cleaning your car windows much easier, especially if it begins to snow, hail or freeze.
Making sure you can see other drivers is important, but also ensuring other drivers can see you are as equally important. Inspect all exterior and interior lights and bulbs to make sure they are functioning correctly. Replace or fix any malfunctioning or damaged bulbs. If your headlights are clouded, you can purchase a kit at an auto store to clean them up or have a service auto shop do it for you. Ensure your tires are at their best performance during the winter months.
If you have worn tires replace them with new ones, worn tires can be a hassle during inclement weather and also make your engine work harder to keep the car going, thus using more gasoline than normal. Take a look at your car’s tire tread: if you aren’t sure whether they need replacing most tires have a tread bar that lets you know when to replace them. If your tires don’t have a tread bar you can always use the penny test, place a penny between the tread ribs on your tire. A “rib” refers to the raised portion of tread that spans the circumference of your tire; tire tread is composed of several ribs. Turn the penny so that Lincoln’s head points down into the tread. See if the top of his head disappears between the ribs. If it does, your tread is still above 2/32”, if you can see his entire head, it may be time to replace the tire because your tread is no longer deep enough (a tip from Bridgestone Tire).
Always check the air pressure in the tires, colder months can cause the air pressure to go down which will cause you to put air in your tires more frequently. You should always have an emergency kit in your car, but during the winter months you may have to add things like gloves, boots, a small shovel, ice/sand, and anything else that you may think might be useful in an emergency situation.
The most important thing to remember during winter weather/inclement weather is drive with caution (keep a safe following distance, go a few miles under the speed limit, and avoid any distractions), add more time to your commute for any delays or accidents on the road, and be safe/careful with other drivers around you.
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