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How To Winterize Your Car

Living in areas with severe winter weather can make things difficult for your car. Although cars today are designed to handle harsh weather, there are things that you can do to make it easier on your vehicle throughout the winter and extend the life of your car in the process. These simple tips can help you save money and reduce the harsh effects of winter on your car.

Complete Fluid Check and Refill

The first step to winterizing your car is to check all fluid levels in your vehicle. It is especially important to have the right amount of antifreeze and water mixture so that fluid does not freeze in your radiator. Your owner’s manual will give you information on the right coolant mixture and you can find testers in auto parts stores as well. Be sure fluid is filled to the maximum level as well. If your area drops below freezing regularly, some mechanics suggest switching to thinner oil in winter, but check with a mechanic or your car’s manufacturer before doing so. One of the easiest fluids to forget but the most necessary in winter is the wiper fluid. Be sure to use freeze-resistant fluid to keep your windshield free of salt and grime during snowy winter months.

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Winter Tire Check

Worn tires and those with low air pressure are very dangerous on wet or icy roads. Check the pressure weekly to be sure your tires are properly inflated. If you live in an area that gets significant snowfall, consider switching to snow tires. If you must travel across unfinished roads covered with snow, you can add snow tires with studs for added grip, although these will reduce your fuel efficiency and handling. If the area where you live doesn’t get significant snowfall, you can manage with all-season tires, but you still need to be sure they are in good condition and inflated properly.

Battery, Cables and Terminals

Battery capacity is reduced in cold weather so you want to be sure that the battery has plenty of fluid and that the cables as well as the terminals are in good condition. Look for breaks and cracks in the battery cables and be sure the terminals fit tightly. Open the refill hole to check the battery water level and, if it is low, fill with distilled water. Turn the engine off and check the level of charge in your battery using a handheld hydrometer. Some batteries have a built-in hydrometer that tells you the remaining voltage as well. Check the date your battery was manufactured as older batteries are more likely to lose charge than newer ones.

Emergency Supplies

No one ever plans to become stranded during bad weather, but it can happen to anyone. Create a winter safety kit so that if the worst happens, you can remain safe until help arrives. Year round, your safety kit should include a jack, lug wrench, road flares and a first aid kit, but, for winter, you should also include:

  • Blanket
  • Container of coolant (make sure it is leak-proof)
  • Flashlight
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Ice scraper and brush
  • Kitty litter or sand (to help gain traction under tires)
  • Small shovel
  • Snacks
  • Water

Place a tube of glycerine, sold at auto parts stores, in your desk at work and in your garage in order to de-ice locks.

If you perform regular maintenance on your vehicle, chances are it is already winter-ready. However, it never hurts to perform these tasks just to be sure your car is ready to go when you are during those cold winter months. For more helpful tips, complete the simple form online.

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