Cold Weather Car Care Tips

Cold weather is on its way, and it’s already settling in for some areas of Hampton Roads. So before winter really settles in, take a little time to make sure that your car is good to go in colder temperatures, ice, and snow. Here’s a quick and easy checklist for getting your car, truck, van, or an SUV ready for winter driving.

Check your windshield wipers. Make sure the wiper blades are in good condition, and replace them if they're old, worn, or torn. If you've been driving in freezing weather and you know you're going to be using the windshield wipers again tomorrow, make sure that you turn the wipers off when parking. Leaving them on will force the motor to work harder to un-stick frozen wipers, which can burn it out.

Check your tires. Tires lose a pound of pressure for every ten-degree drop in temperature, and an under-inflated tire won't grip the surface of the road if there’s half-frozen ice, snow, or slush on the road. It’s also a good idea to check the tread on your tires. Driving through snow requires deep grooves, and worn tires can be hazardous.

Check for leaves and other debris. When leaves and twigs get trapped in areas that are designed let water flow through, it can create leaks inside the car. Check the air plenum near your windshield, the areas around your windows, and around your sunroof. Sunroofs have small hoses in each corner that are designed to drain the area, and even a few trapped leaves can result in a wet headliner or seat on the next rainy day.

Check your battery and charging system. Winter’s cold temperatures put a greater stress on your battery. Many car parts stores will check your battery for free, and it’s much more convenient to change the battery before it dies and you have to shell out your hard-earned money for a tow truck.

Check your engine coolant... or not. If you’ve been getting your car serviced regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, you probably don’t need to do an additional “flush and fill.” But if you’ve been lax or your maintenance or have reason to doubt your coolant, a flush and fill service is probably a good idea. Just make sure that the mechanic uses a coolant that is compatible with your vehicle.

In addition to your regular car maintenance, these simple tips can help get your car ready for winter. Some people like to take extra steps, like putting wax on their headlights and taillights to deflect ice, and it’s always a good idea to check on and restock your emergency kit (flares, tire gauge, first-aid kit, spare fuses, wrenches, jumper cables, flashlight, water and snacks, a blanket, etc). Preparation is key -- don’t let winter weather catch you off-guard.

By Brian Wynne
Categories: Car Care Tips
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