With the temperatures dropping rapidly, it’s time to get your vehicle ready for winter. Whether you drive a compact car, a large SUV, or a brawny truck, there are some common steps you should take in preparation for colder weather. That’s especially the case if you plan on driving to parts of the US that experience much colder temperatures than we typically get here in Texas. Here are some maintenance suggestions that can help keep your car running smoothly through the winter months.
Change Your Engine Oil
Image via Flickr by Extra Zebra
Colder temperatures during the winter can cause your engine oil to thicken. This change makes it harder for the motor oil to perform its most important job: lubricating your engine’s parts as they move. Reduced lubrication can result in excessive wear and tear to your engine’s components, as well as difficulty in getting your car started on cold winter mornings. The simplest way to avoid this scenario is to change out your engine oil with a brand that has a thinner consistency.
Oil thickness is measured by its viscosity, with the lowest viscosity oils having the thinnest consistency. So check your owner’s manual or ask your local mechanic for a lower viscosity oil to put in your car.
Get Your Battery Tested
Car batteries find it harder to generate the power needed to start your engine when the temperature drops outside. If temperatures drop well below freezing, some batteries can lose up to half of their power. To stop this from becoming a problem for you, get your battery tested to see if it’s in good working order. If your battery is older than four or five years, it’s probably a good idea to have it replaced.
Even if your battery is newer, you should have the terminals cleaned of any corrosion and its cables checked for defects. The build-up of corrosion on your battery’s terminals makes it harder for it to transfer power to your engine, adding an unnecessary challenge to the cold weather.
Top-Up Your Coolant
Having the correct mixture of coolant and water in your radiator can make the difference between protecting your vehicle and frozen fluids. A good rule of thumb to follow is to have a 50-50 mixture of anti-freeze and water. If you plan on being somewhere that consistently has temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to go for a 70-30 mixture. You can pick up an anti-freeze tester from your local hardware store to test your radiator’s mixture of coolant and water.
Consider Fitting Snow Tires
If you’re driving to a part of the country that gets plenty of snow on vacation or to visit relatives, brings your vehicle fitted with snow tires before you go. The advantage of these seasonal tires is that the rubber is softer, and the tread is specially designed to ensure better grip on icy surfaces.
Even if you don’t think you’ll need snow tires to get through your winter commutes, make sure your tire pressure is correct. Keeping your tires properly inflated will improve their performance and help you maintain better control of your vehicle. Properly inflating your tires is all the more critical, given that they typically lose 1 pound of pressure for every 10-degree decline in the temperature outside. Low tire pressure can result in less control over your vehicle on the road.
Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Effective windshield wipers will help you maintain a clear view of the road up ahead during a snowstorm or bad weather. Many drivers don’t realize that windshield wipers are only good for a year or two of use. Most auto experts recommend that you change them at least every other year and certainly more often if they look frayed or damaged.
It’s also crucial to replace your wiper fluid with a solution that has a lower freezing temperature so it can cope with the cold. There is nothing worse than your wipers freezing to your windshield because your fluid is solid. Remember to keep an extra supply of wiper fluid in your car if you need to top it off during the winter months. If you’re thinking of traveling by car, you may want to consider finding a road trip checklist!
Pack an Emergency Kit
Despite your best preparations, you can’t rule out that something unexpected may happen, causing you to get stuck in your car. An emergency kit always kept in your vehicle can help you deal with this kind of situation. Important items to include in your kit are an ice scraper, jumper leads, and a jack and wrench in case you need to change a tire. You should also pack bottled water, snack foods, and a warm blanket in case you find yourself stranded for a longer period of time. A flashlight can come in handy in case it’s dark outside.
Ensure All of Your Routine Maintenance Needs Are Taken Care of
Routine maintenance is important for your car to perform well throughout the year, but that’s even truer in winter. Colder temperatures and slippery driving conditions place more strain on your vehicle’s parts, systems, connections, and lines. That’s why it’s a good idea to take your car to your local service center for a thorough check-up before winter hits hard.
One of our certified auto mechanics can perform a multi-point inspection to ensure everything about your vehicle is in good working order. They can carry out filter replacements, fluid top-ups, tire rotations, and more. If we detect any problem with your vehicle, we can carry out repairs so that you can confidently tackle whatever the weather throws at you.
Get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter at Huffines CJDR Plano
So, there you have it! Our team here at Huffines CJDR Plano has outlined some of the key steps you need to take to prepare your Jeep or Ram for the winter months. If you require assistance to perform any of these tasks, or you’d like to arrange a service appointment for your vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our team of certified auto technicians is standing by to help your ride get through the winter months unscathed.