Have you ever heard the expression, “Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you”? Although we haven’t experienced full-force winter weather yet, the first day of winter is rapidly approaching – and so are the holidays! What better way to take care of your vehicle than to be sure that it is fit and ready for the weather outside when it gets frightful? You still have time to put some car-care measures into place before the weather gets rough.
Your car needs to be prepared for this weather in much the same way that you become prepared for cold weather. For example, you wouldn’t even consider going outside without bundling up in the cold weather – so why would you expect your vehicle to function properly without preparation?
What can you do to prepare your vehicle? Well, you can gain an understanding of how things under the hood change or adapt to the changing of the temperature from hot/warm to cold/freezing:
- Engine Oil – engine oil reacts to the engine running temperature, so be sure that you’re using the proper oil for the conditions. This information is included in your owner’s manual. Further, check the oil viscosity – this is the thickness of the oil – because it directly affects engine performance (too thick – engine runs hot) – and, of course, we recommend an oil change about every 3,000 miles.
- Engine Coolant – this isn’t just for cooling off the engine in the summer months, it also ensures that your engine is protected in the cold/freezing temperatures of winter. Be sure that you are using a coolant with ethylene glycol to protect your engine. Also, be aware of the coolant to water ratio for your vehicle. Again, this is found in your owner’s manual or one of our service staff would be glad to help you to determine this.
- Battery – Battery capacity is reduced by the cold weather, so a thorough inspection of the battery, cables, terminals, connections and fluid will make sure that it will run at its full potential. Also, determine how old your battery is – knowing this will give you a clue when it will begin to lose charge. If you should need a new battery, never buy a battery with a six-month-old manufacture date!
- Windshield – Did you know that it’s recommended that your windshield wipers be changed every 6 months or so? It’s a great idea to get new windshield wipers at the start of winter and the start of summer. In addition, be sure your washer fluid is full – especially in snow, sleet, heavy rain and the like. This is a safety issue that it seems we don’t think about until there are massive amounts of slush, mud, and dirt flying up onto our windshield and if we have no washer fluid left, could cause an accident.
- Tires – make sure that you have the proper tread and pressure on your tires to handle slippery conditions. All-season tires are recommended due to their ability to grip the road in a variety of different weather conditions.
- De-icing – be sure to have some type of de-icing solvent nearby – of course, if it’s locked in your car that has frozen locks, it’s not very helpful!
- Emergency Kit/First Aid Kit – consider putting a box of some basic equipment that you may need in the trunk of your car, such as: flares, blankets, engine oil, washer fluid, coolant, flashlight, a small first aid kit and more.
- 4-wheel drive – if you own a vehicle with 4-wheel drive capability, be sure that it is working properly BEFORE winter weather starts. A functioning 4-wheel drive system will improve tire traction on snow and ice and will decrease the possibility of getting stuck.
- Belt/hose check – have all belts and hoses checked before the winter weather sets in because cold weather can weaken them and increase the change of them bursting or leaking.
- Check defrosting and heating units for any issues and check around your windshield and windows for air or water leaks.
- Keep a full tank of gas if you can – this lessens your risk of getting stranded should you get stuck in the ice or snow. Also, a near-empty gas tank can cause condensation to build and eventually freeze up, blocking gas transfer to the engine. So keeping your tank full will not only help your car run properly and efficiently, but will also help your wallet!
- Know what to do if you get stranded – don’t leave your car unless you’re completely sure where you are and how far away help may be. Also, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes of each hour and leave at least one window open a little so that snow and ice don’t seal the car shut.
We hope that we have given you some food for thought about preparing for this winter’s weather! Click below to schedule an appointment for our Winterization Package. We’ll check out all the things mentioned above as part of this service. So, while no one really enjoys driving in snow, sleet, hail and freezing rain, we do need to get to work and/or school, shuttle the kids around and all our other errands and driving trips! Let’s make sure that our car takes care of us this winter!
Schedule your appointment today for Tischer’s Winterization Package!
In the meantime, if you have any other tips to ensure that your vehicle is running smoothly this winter, please share with us below.
*image courtesy of jm3 on Flickr.com