Your car is an investment. It’s a way for you to transport your family to and from school, extra-curricular activities, the grocery store, vacations, and more. Because your car is an investment, it’s a great idea to take good care of your vehicle so that it can continue to run properly for years to come. Winter is approaching and there are several ways to winterize your car to keep it running well.
Ice, rain, snow and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your car. To keep your family safe on the slippery roads this winter, it’s important to take a few simple winterization steps. According to the International Carwash Association, proper maintenance can also go a long way in helping preserve the investment in your vehicle.
1. Switch engine oil.
How long has it been since you’ve changed the engine oil in your car? Oil lubricates the engine so it can function properly, but not all automobile oil is the same. If you live in a cold climate, consider switching to a thinner, less viscous oil. For example, a 10W-30 might be ideal for hot summer weather, but a thicker 5W-30 is better for when temperatures dip below freezing. Ask your auto mechanic what is recommended and refer to the manufacturer’s manual for more insight.
2. Maintain a car wash routine.
I have a black car, so dirt can be seen easily. After paying off our car this past August, I made a goal to keep it washed and cleaned since we had put so much money down on it. I wanted to do my best to take care of it’s appearance. Due to the presence of ice, salt and sand on the roads, washing your vehicle in the winter is even more important than the summer. Getting a car wash and a fresh coat of wax before the temperature begins to drop can be your first line of defense against winter elements. Vehicular corrosion occurs most quickly when the temperature rises and falls below freezing.
3. Check the battery.
It’s never fun to be out somewhere and you walk to your car, try to crank it up, and it does nothing. Cold weather can take a toll on your car’s battery. Before you get stranded, give your battery a once-over to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. Check the cables, terminals and fluid and look for anything abnormal. Some battery retailers will conduct a complementary car battery assessment if you’d prefer an expert analysis.
4. Update engine coolant.
I remember the time when my husband and I had to pull over on the side of the road because our engine overheated. We had to call a tow truck to help us out and thankfully we were able to get back on the road shortly after taking it to the shop. Just because it’s chilly doesn’t mean your engine can’t overheat. To protect your engine against corrosion and to help ensure it doesn’t overheat, ask your car technician to change to an engine coolant with ethylene glycol which has antifreeze properties. While replacing coolants, ask the technician to make sure all fluids are topped off, including window washer solution.
5. Get a grip on tire safety.
New tires are on our wish list this year. We need to replace our tires soon because they are worn down. If you live in an area where winter means driving in snow and ice, it’s critical to check your tires to keep you and your passengers safe. Each tire should have an adequate amount of tread to properly grip the road. You can easily see if new tires are needed with the penny test — hold a penny head down in the center tread. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, you have less than 2/32-inch tread and it’s time for new tires. Also be sure to your tires are properly inflated to ensure optimum handling, safety, and fuel efficiency.
Taking the time to properly winterize your car not only ensures the comfort and safety of you and your family but also helps you maintain the value of your car for many winters to come.