Sunday, November 10, 2013

Helpful Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

The good news about winter driving is that you only have to prepare for it once a year. The bad news is that it lasts for several excruciating months. Preparing for driving in winter weather can help ease your mind and will be helpful if you end up having car troubles, or an accident. Here are some helpful tips on how to winterize your car.

Winter Weather Kit

One of the easiest things you can do to prepare this winter is to put together a simple kit of things you would need if you were stranded out in the cold. A blanket, an extra pair of gloves, a hat and snow boots could all be life-saving if something were to happen while driving this winter.

In addition to extra things to keep you warm, make sure you keep a useable spare tire, tools to change a flat, washer fluid, engine coolant, flashlight with extra batteries, flares, jumper cables, and a shovel in case you need to dig yourself out in a storm.

Four-Wheel Drive

If your vehicle has 4-wheel drive (4WD) it's a good idea to know what it can and can't do. Also, make sure it is functioning correctly before you get in a situation where you'll need it. 4WD can improve tire traction on ice and snow; however it doesn't give a driver license to speed around on icy roads without a care in the world. 4WD varies depending on the vehicle, so check your owner's manual to familiarize yourself on how it works and how to engage the system.


If you don't have at least 3/32" of tread left on your tires (the groove pattern in your tires) then your tires may be considered bald. Along with keeping the proper amount of air in your tires, be sure to check the tread going in to the winter months. You can also swap out your regular tires for specialty snow tires if you live in a particularly snowy or mountainous area.


The average lifespan of a car battery is three to five years. Winter months can put extra pressure on your battery, so it's a good idea to check the battery going into winter. You can start by checking the battery cables and clamps for fraying or corrosion. Battery acid corrodes the clamps by covering them with a white powdery substance, but it can be easily removed with baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Most batteries also have caps on top, and you can check your battery's fluid level by removing these caps. If the fluid is low, fill the battery with distilled water up to the bottom of the cap.


Did you know there are different types of engine oils for different seasons? Since cold weather tends to turn oil into a thicker viscosity, it's a good idea to change your oil to one of a lower viscosity before the cold weather begins. You can change it back to a thicker consistency once the warm weather starts up again. To keep your engine running cleanly, pay attention to what type of oil you are using during cold weather and warmer weather.


One somewhat obvious thing to keep in mind is keeping your gas tank full enough that the liquid does not freeze during the winter. It is recommended to keep at least a quarter of a tank of gas at all times during cold months, and it's probably a good idea to keep more gas than that in the tank since you really don't want to get stranded in the wintertime.


Having a floppy windshield wiper is not only annoying; it also causes a dangerous problem of not clearing your windshield properly. Make sure your wipers are operating correctly and that the rubber is not pulling away from the rest of the wiper. It's also a good idea to check your wiper fluid level since wiper fluid can help melt icy windshields.

Car Components

Defrosting and heating units that do not run properly in winter months can also be very dangerous. You will not be able to see properly if you do not have a working defroster; and having a broken heater can be extremely uncomfortable, as well as dangerous if you get to the point where you can't feel your feet.

by Jason J Junge!
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