Winterizing your vehicle is a smart way to protect your car and minimize the chances of getting left stranded on the side of the road in the cold. Read on for some tips and suggestions for how to care for your vehicle in the winter and wet weather and keep your vehicle running safely and efficiently for years to come.
To care for your car’s exterior, wash regularly and apply wax to protect the paint and clear coat from the elements. This is especially important during the winter when your vehicle can be regularly exposed to road salt and coal ash. Do not allow grime to sit for long periods and inspect your car’s exterior for chips and dings that might need to be treated with touchup paint. This will keep your cars exterior looking nice and prevent rust and scratches.
Oil changes should be done at regular suggested intervals throughout the year in all vehicles for proper maintenance. Switch to full synthetic or synthetic blend during the colder months for easier winter starts as synthetic oil flows easier at low temps and does not need any time to warm up.
A car Battery must work harder in winter. If yours is weak from a long hot summer, it may go dead and leave your stranded in winter. Have your battery tested as the cold weather season approaches to verify that it is not weak, and have it replaced if it is.
Headlights & Windshield
Visibility is always important in a vehicle, but with winter weather creating conditions of poor visibility, it is a good idea to verify that there are no issues that would minimize the ability to see clearly in your vehicle. Check all headlights and tail lights to see if bulbs need to be replaced or lenses cleaned. Bright clear bulbs are important for the driver to be able to see well, but also so that other drivers can clearly see you. Replace windshield wipers and fill windshield washer fluid with de-icing fluid to ensure that the windshield of the vehicle will always be clean and clear.
Tyres that are worn out can be a dangerous hazard when road conditions are less than favorable in the winter due to snow and ice or even just water. Check for sufficient tread depth and confirm that the tread is greater than 3/32. A common way to check that your tread is safe is to insert a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, then the tread is too low and worn out and each tyre should be replaced for the safest winter or wet weather travel.
Antifreeze is a critical winter engine fluid and the name alone indicates the reason it is so important. During your winter engine preparations, be sure to check your engine’s antifreeze level and refill antifreeze if it is low. It is also a good idea to check your antifreeze strength to determine the lowest temperature at which the antifreeze in your engine will protect the fluid from freezing. If your antifreeze needs to be replaced, flush the radiator to ensure that your engine will be protected from the damage that can be caused when fluids freeze and expand.
Fuel Injectors should be clean for a smooth-running car year-round, but this can be especially important in the winter. To clean your fuel injectors, simply add fuel injector cleaner to your gas tank during a routine fill up to clean your fuel injectors. Dirty fuel injectors can lead to problems such as rough idling, lost power and hard starts. If water is present in the fuel system, this can be a real problem when the temperature drops to freezing or below. Some fuel injector cleaners are designed to act as a fuel system antifreeze and can help avoid the problems associated with water in the fuel system in the winter.
Diesel vehicles require special care and maintenance to avoid a common problem of the fuel lines developing a gel like build up in the winter. Much like using fuel injector cleaner, diesel tanks can also be treated with an additive that will keep cold weather and water from becoming a problem and treat the gel that tends to form. The diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) level should also be checked in diesel vehicles. Def is automatically sprayed into the emissions system in diesel vehicles and keeps the vehicle operating within federal emission standards. A diesel vehicle will perform at greatly reduced levels if at all if the DEF runs dry.
De-icing chemicals are a must have in areas where the temperatures regularly drop below freezing in the winter. Besides the de-icing fluid that can be used in window washer fluid reservoir, a lock deicing chemical can be very useful in the winter months as well.
Finally, check your radiator cap for leaks and verify that your thermostat is working properly to round out your winter maintenance routine. An antifreeze leak and overheating engine can both cause big problems for your vehicle and can result from an old and leaky radiator cap. Check the area around the radiator cap for fluid and replace the cap if you detect a leak or if your radiator cap has not been replaced in a few years, just to be safe. If your thermostat fails, you will find yourself getting to really experience the cold winter weather. Change your thermostat if any corrosion is detected upon inspection.
Follow these winter preparation suggestions to stay warm and safe though all of your winter and wet weather driving.
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