Mid-February of 2021 saw unprecedented winter weather that stretched as far south as Texas! While power outages were reported, much of the rest of the country grappled with sub-zero temperatures, winter weather advisories, and heaps of snow. Winter storm Uri arrived with a vengeance! Through it all, it’s important to keep your car in good working condition, just in case you have to go out.
Maybe you are dealing with winter as you have always dealt with winter. Perhaps you are new to the winter preparedness game. Nevertheless, you want to ensure that you vehicle is in good working order in the event you have to drive it do to an emergency or some other event. Let’s take a look at some winter tips that will help you have a great car that can withstand the punch that winter packs.
Winterizing Your Vehicle – Winter Car Maintenance Musts!
These days, it seems as if the country’s climate is quite unpredictable. Who would have guessed that the entire state of Texas would be under a winter weather advisory in February of 2021? Nevertheless, if winter has its grip around you, you want to be sure that your car doesn’t suffer. Check out some ways to keep your car healthy as you work to stay warm and healthy too.
Get Your Car Serviced ASAP
While this tip is generally a great one BEFORE winter strikes, it can still be a good tip to adhere to in the midst of winter’s grip on your region. Be sure that you get your car serviced. This means that you want to get your oil changed, your vehicle’s fluids replenished and capped off, and your car inspected for any issues. The last thing anyone needs as he or she battles winter, is to deal with a car that refuses to start or has some other problem. Schedule a maintenance evaluation with your favorite car mechanic and fid out what condition your car is in.
Check Out That Battery
Another item that should be on your winter car maintenance checklist, is inspecting that battery. If it was giving you issues BEFORE winter, then you certainly don’t want it acting fickle during a winter storm! So, you just may have to dip into those savings and purchase a new battery. Trust us. You’ll be glad you did. Who wants to get stuck in the grocery store parking lot with a battery that refuses to work and get you back home? If your battery has some age on it, now is the perfect time to replace it. While vehicle batteries are not the most expensive item to buy for a car, you want to ensure that you buy a quality battery. Winter car battery maintenance is essential and really not expensive. So, be sure that you have a healthy battery that can carry you through winter. And if you don’t, replace it ASAP!
Consider A Set of Winter Tires
If you plan on doing a lot of driving during the winter and you live in a region of the country in which winter lasts for a few good months, then you may consider getting some winter tires. Winter tires are specifically designed to withstand harsh and relentless winter conditions, thanks to their greater directional stability during high speeds and their increased traction. Many places offer specials on winter tires, so it’s to your advantage to take your car into a tire shop and request a great set of winter tires that come with a strong and durable warranty to match!
Antifreeze in The Engine Coolant
During winter’s grip on your region, you want to think about pouring some antifreeze into the engine coolant. You can discuss this option with your mechanic – but it seems to benefit lots of car owners. Your vehicle’s engine coolant contains an equal part of both water and antifreeze. Over time this combination can become very diluted, which is why it then becomes necessary to add the antifreeze. Many motorists top their coolant with water. This can over-dilute the antifreeze. As a result, the antifreeze will freeze, causing the engine to overheat. Then, you’re left with a huge repair bill to rebuild or replace your engine. Your mechanic will have the best course of action for you.
Try To Wash Your Car As Much as Possible
Sure, it may seem like it’s pointless to get a car washed in the winter time. But think about this: as you drive during the winter, you have snow, ice, slush and salt that sits on your car. These elements can erode the paint and finish of your car, causing rust to set in. So, when the temperature is above freezing, take your car into an automatic car wash so that you remove all of the winter elements on it. Yes, the wash may only last but a few hours or days, but you don’t want salt and other elements to strip its finish. Come spring and summer, you want a car that is in still great condition, right? So, be sure to wash the car in the winter as much as possible.
Check the Bottom of Your Vehicle Often
These days, many vehicles have underbody panels a well as low-hanging air dams. These assets can have serious issues in the winter. For example, those panels can get completely ripped off should your vehicle pass a snowdrift or a steep hill of snow and ice. For that reason, you want to inspect the bottom of your vehicle as well as those components, just to make sure that they are still intact. You may be able to pop them back into place –or find a great mechanic who can assist.
Check Your Wipers and Windshield
In the winter, it’s all about being able to see the road before you. You cannot see the streets if you have a dirty windshield. So, be sure that you check your wiper blades often. Ice can collect on them and you have to take the time to remove it. You also want to be sure that your blades are not ripped or torn in any places. Don’t forget to constantly cap off your windshield wiper fluid. In the winter months, you may have to buy a fluid that can withstand the bitter cold. You can also put some of that fluid into an empty spray bottle and clean your vehicle windows with it too, so that you can see out of all of windows.
Do A Heater Inspection
Another items to add to the winter car maintenance checklist is to inspect your vehicle’s heater system. There’s no sense in getting into a car with good tires, a good set of wiper blades – and your heater doesn’t work. This will not be ideal when you have to make a quick trip to the grocery store for milk and bread. You may even want to get an inspection of your vehicle’s heater system from your local mechanic. Don’t forget to inspect your defroster system too. Consider checking this well in advance of those winter days when the temperature is only a single digit outside.
Evaluate Your Radiator
Your vehicle’s radiator needs to be a match to the harsh winter so if it isn't filled to the correct level with a good blend of antifreeze, then the the liquid may create build-up or even just freeze. Once this happens, you’re looking at a leak or even possibly a failure of your transmission. This is a good tip to take care of before winter packs its punch in your area. Check with your mechanic and see if he or she has time to perform a radiator check of your vehicle.
Keep That Gas Tank Above The Half-Way Mark
Although it is never a good time to drive around with just “fumes” in the gas tank, you certainly don’t want to have a gas tank that is less than half full on a winter day. It may be a good idea to have a full tank of gas at all times. If you are the kind of driver who makes a “quick trip here and there”, get into the habit of keeping that gas tank above half in the winter months. This is a good idea for a few reasons. Keep reading and allow us to share them with you!
- Condensation builds up inside of an empty gas tank. This is a huge problem in the winter when that moisture will freeze up, causing your fuel lines to become blocked. This can prevent your car from starting.
- Dirt can clog our gas filter. You driving around with an empty tank is the perfect circumstance for dirt to enter your gas filter.
- If you are one of those drivers who keeps a close-to-empty tank, then you run the risk of your fuel pumps sucking in air. This causes heat which can cause lots of damage over the course of days, weeks and months. Think of your gas as a coolant. Keeping the fuel level high helps your pumps to last longer.
Starting A Car in The Winter – Winter Car Maintenance
Many people swear by starting a car in the winter and leaving it on for a few minutes. While the verdict is still out on this, your car will get warm as you drive around town. In some jurisdictions, it’s against the law to start a car then leave it unattended. For example, many people like to start their cars and leave them running in the driveway, as they prepare for the day. Most men and women in law enforcement say “no” to this. The most obvious reason is that someone could walk in your driveway and steal the car. Sometimes, crime doesn’t wait because it’s winter. While many experts say that it is pointless to start a car and “let it warm up”, you can certainly get into your car, sit in your driveway, start your car, and take a few minutes to adjust your seat, mirrors and check your windows for ice, snow and debris. Just a few minutes to see if your car is ready for winter driving is ideal. This way, you are with your car, and you can crank up the heat so that it is comfortable once you put your vehicle in drive and head out to your destination.
Keep Some De-Icer in The Car
Another winter car care tip is to keep some de-icer in the car. You may opt to put a can in your glove compartment or even under your seat if it will fit. Sometimes, you will be out and about, and some freezing rain or sleet will fall as you are in the grocery store. The de-icer can help remove the ice that is forming on your windows and windshield. De-icer can be found at your local auto parts store. Generally, during the winter, the managers will place it at the checkout counters, so that customers won’t forget it. Grab a few cans and put one in your purse or bag when you exit your car, so that you can spray it on your car before you get into it.
Invest in Some Great Brushes
You have done all of the maintenance to winterize your car, now it’s time to either find the snow removal brushes that you threw in the garage or buy some new ones. You want the bristles to be firm and ready to grab the snow and debris that accumulates on a car during the winter. You may also opt to buy some brushes that have an ice scraper at the other end. Many folks opt to put an entire kitchen broom in their trunk because they are great at removing snow! Regardless of what you use- a kitchen broom or a brush- you want to have some quality brushes for snow and ice removal in your car during the winter months.
An Emergency Kit During Winter
Another car care tip for the winter, is to purchase an emergency kit. This is one of those items that you hope that you’ll never use- but is good to have, just in case you need to use it.
What should you have in your emergency kit?
The following items should be in your emergency kit:
- A great flashlight and some replacement batteries for it.
- Flares so that other drivers can see you if you have to stop in the middle of the road
- A few good and warm blankets- just in case you have to wait for help
- A portable radio with batteries and a replacement set of batteries for a backup
- Coats, hats and gloves so that you stay warm
- Bottled water or you may opt to keep a gallon of water in your trunk
- Extra engine oil, coolant and wiper fluid.
Be sure that you have your phone charged and ready to go too. Try to keep those phone conversations to a minimum when you are out and about. You need all of your power to remain safe and in touch with folks who can help you, just in case you run into an issue and need assistance. Have a charger that you use, solely for powering your phone in your car. Keep it in the car so that it doesn’t become lost.
Keep in mind that this kit will be ideal for winter. So, you may opt to remove it come spring or summer when you don’t need a blanket, gloves or hats. Your summer survival kit should be different than your winter one.
Winter can pack a punch, but with these preventive tips and a good mechanic, you and your car will be safe from the wrath of winter. Stay safe out there!
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