Winterize your Vehicle
We’ve already talked about how checking your tires is important when winter weather is imminent. There are, however, some other things to consider before Jack Frost settles in for the winter months. Assuming that you’ve covered the basics, like having and ice scraper handy, and that your vehicle is up-to-date on routine scheduled maintenance, there are some things that can help you through winter challenges.
- Clear out the leaves. Leaves, twigs, and other organic matter can build up and cause problems in areas of your car where water is supposed to flow. If these areas are clogged with leaves, it can cause leaks or corrosion. The air plenum near the windshield is perhaps the most likely area for this to happen.
- Check wiper blades. Winter precipitation can be icy and slushy. Make sure you have a good set of wiper blades on your vehicle. Generally, wiper blades should be replaced every year. If your car doesn’t have the newer “beam blade” style wipers, consider getting a pair, especially for winter. The beam style blades don’t have an external spring that can freeze up.
When snow or freezing precipitation is forecasted, be sure to turn the wipers off when you par so that when you restart your car, the wiper’s motor is not working to get frozen wipers going. This can burn out the motor. Some people like to pop the wipers up so they’re not touching the windshield. This makes it easier to scrape ice or snow off of your windshield.
- Make sure your battery is charged. Cold weather puts more strain on a car’s battery, especially if the car is parked outside. Checking your battery and charging system now will help you to avoid being stranded in the cold later on. If you find that your car’s needs a new battery, you can quickly get a new one from an auto parts store and install it yourself or contact your service department and let a qualified service tech install a new one for you.
- Check the antifreeze. You have probably seen “flush and fill” promotions at repair shops around town. Chances are your engine coolant is fine for the winter ahead as long as you’ve followed your car’s service schedule regularly. Most newer cars have been fitted with coolants that can last as long as five years or 150,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to see what is recommended for you car.
- Have a survival kit. It is important to be prepared in case you do get stranded during winter weather. A space blanket for each person in your family tucked into the glove compartment or some other storage space within reach of the driver can be a lifesaver when temperatures dip below zero. Other things to consider adding are a whistle, a plastic bag for gathering snow for water, plumber’s candle and matches for melting snow, a radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable snacks like granola bars, raisins, nuts, or dehydrated fruit; something to read to keep you awake, toilet tissue, and a folding cup.
- Clean your vehicle’s headlights. In winter’s gloom, it is important to squeeze every lumen you can out of your car’s headlamps. Make sure they are free from dirt and then rub car wax on them, let it dry, and buff off. Repeat the process. The slippery surface left behind will be less likely to build up an icy coating when road slush refreezes on your car and, if it does, it will make it easier to clear off.
If your car is due for scheduled maintenance, schedule an appointment with the Lake Country Service Department before winter weather hits. You want your car to be in the best condition it can be in to combat whatever Old Man Winter may have in store.