Well, it's autumn again and we all know what that means - old man winter is
knocking on the door. Now is the time to winterize your car so you can
count on it to start when you need it to and run at peak efficiency.
Winterizing an automobile is really a fairly simple task when you take it
step-by-step. Here is the procedure in a nutshell:
- Anti-Freeze - Your car's anti-freeze/coolant is the second most important
fluid after motor oil, but in the colder months it takes on an even more
First and foremost, anti-freeze keeps your car's engine block, radiator and hoses from
freezing up and bursting when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. It also contains
essential chemicals that prevent engine corrosion and help lubricate the water
These chemicals break down and lose most of their effectiveness over time. You should
change the anti-freeze in your car every 30,000 miles or 2 years (whichever
comes first), so if you didn't change it last year you need to do it now.
don't need to change your anti-freeze, simply check the fluid level and top it off according
to the instructions in your vehicle's owner's manual.
- Engine Oil - Most auto manufacturers recommend using different oils in
summer and winter so an important part of winterizing your car is making sure
you change the oil to the grade recommended for cold weather. Heavy weight oil
makes a vehicle "turn over" more slowly when it's cold. This in turn
makes the car harder to start.
If you're due for an oil change anyway, great. Just use the proper grade of oil.
If you aren't due an oil change, you should probably go ahead and change it
anyway to make sure you don't forget about it.
- Battery - The most common cause of a breakdown or failure to start during
the winter months by far is a weak battery. Batteries lose their ability to hold
a charge over time, and if yours is more than a year old you should have it
tested at your auto center (most will test your battery for free).
If you happen to live in a cold climate, you should consider replacing your
car's battery with one that is rated one step higher (in cold cranking amps)
than what the owner's manual calls for.
- Tires - Ice and snow can make winter driving a treacherous proposition, so
making sure your vehicle has a fresh set of snow tires is very important if you
live in an area that receives snow and ice. Additionally, if your area receives deep snows, I
strongly recommend keeping a working pair of tire chains in your trunk.
If you live in a warmer locale you can probably get by with a good set of
all-weather tires. All-weather tires do well on wet and dry roads while
providing a measure of extra traction on light snow.
You should also check the tread depth of your tires and replace them if they are
more than 1/2 worn out. Even the best brand of snow tires will do little good if
most of the tread has worn off! And make sure that your tires have the
recommended air pressure.
- Heating/Defrosting System - Autumn is always the best time to check your
heating and defrosting system for proper operation - waiting until winter can
mean having to peer through a foggy windshield and having to do repairs in sub-freezing
temperatures. Check out your heating system now before you need it!
Most people don't think about winterizing their vehicles until the first really
cold weather hits, and sometimes it costs them in more ways than one. Take the
time to prepare your car for winter now and you can drive with confidence
when the thermometer inevitably takes a nosedive!
About the Author:
Rick Rouse is the owner of RLROUSE Directory & Informational Resources.
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