Need to Winterize Your Car – Here is How!

It is the time of year to winterize your car. Your car needs this because the wintertime is very unfriendly to a car. Cold temperatures make it harder for an engine to work properly. Snow and ice limit traction. Potholes, especially on the interstate, damage wheels and tires. Salt causes rust and gravel pits the paint. There are things you can do to help your car during this harsh time. Here are some straightforward steps to help you get ready, if you haven’t already.


  • Tire pressure: It is especially important during the winter. Traction is often a problem due to wet or snowy road conditions. It is critical to have properly inflated tires, as this guarantees the best possible contact between the tire and the road. If your tires are properly inflated, it will help protect against wheel damage that might occur as the car is driven over potholes. Check out your owner’s manual to find the correct tire pressures.Air pressure in your tires will drop when it is cold. This is because air contracts when the air gets cooler. Keep this in mind if you are checking tire pressures. Also, check your spare tire to make sure it has air in it and that all the tire changing equipment is in the trunk of your car.
  • Snow tires: The condition of your car’s tires is very important during the winter. If they are worn, or they are high performance tires, then braking, acceleration and handling are all negatively affected while driving on slippery roads. Because of this, you are likely to have an accident.Snow tires are effective when driving on snow and ice. Even with snow tires, your car will not handle as well on slick roads as it does on dry ones. But snow tires do help to improve traction on slick surfaces more than all-season tires.


Should your car have a 4WD System, make sure it is working properly before the onset of winter. Make sure the system engages and disengages smoothly and that there are no strange noises when the system is in use. Check to make that the transmission and gear oil levels are correct. The owner’s manual will state at what speeds and settings the 4WD can be activated.


Change the engine oil and adjust the viscosity grade. Viscosity simply refers to how thick or thin the oil is. The higher the viscosity, the thicker the oil. Engine oils are sold with different levels of viscosity. The colder an oil is, the thicker it will be. A thicker oil does not circulate as well in an engine during start-up as a thinner oil would. If the oil is too thick, the engine will not lubricate properly. Also, dirty oil does not circulate as well as clean oil.

You can change your car’s engine oil in the wintertime to a thinner oil. Even when the thinner oil is cold, it is still not too thick for proper engine lubrication. Keep in mind that an engine oil can also be too thin.

Determining what type of oil your car should have during the winter is easy. Simply read your car owner’s manual. The manual will list the manufacturer’s oil recommendations for different climates. If you have a dealership or local garage perform the oil change, you can ask the manager what type and viscosity of oil they are putting into your vehicle.


Cold temperatures can accelerate the death of a belt or hose. Before winter starts, have the belts and hoses inspected on your vehicle.


You want to keep your visibility clear. The life expectancy of a windshield wiper blade is one year. If your car has wiper blades older than one year, replace them.


Keep the windshield wiper fluid reservoir full. A harsh winter storm is the worst possible time to run out of wiper fluid.


A battery gives little notice before it quits working. Cold temperatures can reduce a car’s battery power by up to 50 percent. Make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion and if your car battery is older than three years, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility.


The ideal mixture of antifreeze or coolant and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50/50. You can check the composition of a radiator’s mixture by using an antifreeze tester. You can find these at all auto parts stores and they are inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture is off, adjust it by adding either coolant or water.


Remember that every car should carry an emergency kit inside the car during the winter months just in case you would breakdown. You should have the following in your kit:

  • A flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit;
  • Jumper cables, a tool kit and tire chains;
  • A blanket, warm clothes and gloves;
  • Paper towels;
  • A bag of abrasive material, such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter.
    Use this for added traction when a tire is stuck.
  • A snow brush, ice scraper and snow shovel;
  • Extra wiper blades & windshield washer fluid
  • Extra food and water
Dave Altman

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