Winterizing Your Car

Preparing your car or automobile for winter driving will decrease the chances of costly problems and aggravation you may experience. Depending on the location where you live, winter driving can be very pleasant or a real challenge, and steps should be considered to be prepared accordingly to any climate change. Older cars or cars with high mileage should get more attention, in preparation for winter driving. National Car Care Council showed that more than seventy percent of motorists do not winterize their cars, in preparation of colder months. This can result in cooling systems failure, in engine roadside breakdowns.

Outlined are precautionary steps should be considered:

Test the car horn, make sure working loud and clear.

Check shocks and struts, if they need to be replaced, by pushing down on the hood, and observing if the car bounces more then normal.

Check for damaged, cracks or loose rubber hoses, and drive belts because that can make a car inoperable in very cold weather.

Check filters and fluids thoroughly for maximum efficiency. Make sure nothing is obstructing the filters, including any leaves or dirt.

Check the pH concentration of the cooling system: Mixer should have fifty percent good quality antifreeze and fifty percent water. Climates where the temperature could fall below twenty degrees then increase the antifreeze to seventy percent, and thirty percent water.

Change Antifreeze every two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. Not changing antifreeze can cause contaminants like rust, sediment or oil to change colors that causes chemical breakdown over time, which can renders antifreeze ineffective.

Have the car battery and charging system tested, especially if the battery is within one year of expired warranty. A car battery will loose about 30 percent of power in freeze temperatures, and 60 percent at zero degree temperature. Make sure the battery has no corrosion, clean cables, and no problems starting a car. Clean the top of the battery with a solution of baking soda and water.

Check vehicle owner’s manual for any recommended winter grade oil. Winter grade oil is light – weight that helps start a car easier in cold climates. Remember change oil filter after each oil change.

Look for any holes in the floorboards or trunk area. This will prevent any exhaust from penetrating the car, and cause carbon monoxide fumes from entering, especially during winter months when car windows are usually closed.

Check the car tires for proper air pressure. On the side of driver’s door, should be printed the recommended manufactured air pressure and information found in car manual. Make sure each tire threads are even, and side – walls are in good shape. Every ten degrees drop in temperature tire pressure will loose one pound. Rotate tires which helps equalize tread wear and gains maximum use of each tire life span. Consider using snow tires. High performance tires usually don’t perform well, in bad winter climates. Make sure the jack and spare tire are in good condition. Keep in the trunk tire chains. During snow – storms some states require vehicles to have chains on tires.

Check windshield wipers are in good working condition. Use winter windshield – blades that are covered with rubber boots to keep ice, snow, and water from freezing on the pivot points. Keep in the car windshield de-icer, which will save time scraping the ice off the car, and prevent damaging the paint on the hood.

Always have at least quarter tank filled with gas and sufficient amount of windshield wiper liquid. Driving with less then a quarter tank of gasoline may cause the gas to ice, in cold temperatures. Consider using a de-icer product that prevents fuel from icing.

Flush the cooling systems and replace coolant.

Check the car manual how often a tune – up is necessary, and prior to winter driving.

Make sure the there is no problems with car brakes and add brake fluid if necessary.

When you change radiator hoses, also change thermostat that controls the coolant flow through to the engine. If the thermostat fails, then the engine will overheat.

Spray WD – 40 on all door and trunk locks to eliminate freezing. Always keep a small can of
WD – 40 in your car, for emergencies.

Replace carpet floor mats with rubber all weather mats. Rubber mats will absorb better any snow or ice from soles of shoes or sneakers.

Keep in the trunk, a bag of cat litter, sand or gravel to use on ice or snow for traction, and a bag of rock salt to melt away snow and ice.

Make sure the emergency lights, traffic signal lights, defroster, and heater are working. If necessary replace any fuses.
Fix any small cracks in windshield, before any crack becomes larger and expensive to fix or replace. During winter driving, roads are filled with rock salt, ice and loose gravel, which can scratch and/or cause further damage to a cracked windshield.
Recommended having a cell phone available and fully charged for emergencies.

Always keep in the car trunk in case of emergency: First – Aid Kit, flashlight (Batteries can get corroded if kept a long time, inside a flashlight), blanket, gloves, battery operated radio and/or television, ice scraper, small shovel, a spare jacket, jumper cables, emergency flares, water, snacks, nonperishable food, and rock salt. Also, have a fluorescent orange cloth, which can be tied to the antenna, to notify other drivers and police, that you need help in case of an emergency.

If you get caught in a winter storm while driving, park your car off the road. Stay in your car, until the storm subsides or wait until police arrive to help you and any passengers. Should keep in the glove compartment a flashlight and small battery radio. Other essential necessities should be stored in the trunk. Become a member of the Automobile Club of America or any other association that can provide road assistance, and reduce or eliminate towing cost. Drive slower when ice and snow is on the ground.

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