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Winter is an important time of year for car maintenance. It's not just about snow tires, but the various maintenance tasks you must do during this season. Many people don't know what to do when facing a winter storm or cold temperatures.
When the temperatures drop and the weather gets tricky, keeping your car in good shape can be challenging. But it's not impossible. Here are the best tips for taking care of your vehicle during the cold winter months.
How to Take Care of Your Car During Winter
1. Keep Your Gas Tank at Least Half Full
You need to make sure you will never run out of gas as it will damage your car's engine. Just fill up your tank for the safety measure when you see the low fuel warning light turn on. If possible, don't allow your car to get to the point where the low fuel warning light turns on.
When it's cold, condensation can also cause fuel lines to freeze, preventing gasoline from reaching your engine. Fortunately, vehicles now have sealed fuel injection systems, which can help prevent this from happening, but it's always best to be on the safe side and keep your tank at least half full. It may also help you stay warm, as the driver can continue running the engine if they get stuck.
2. Change the Oil and Filter
Cold temperatures affect your car. Motor oils thicken in the cold and cause the engine to slow down. In general, you must apply multi-viscosity oil made for winter use. The typical formulas recommended on modern machines are 5 W-20, 5 W-30, and 10 W30. These provide excellent oil flow at low temperatures and are often used all year.
The winter weather can be very hard on your engine, so you need to make sure the oil and filter are good. You don't need to change the oil every time you hit the recommended mileage mark, but it's a good idea to at least stick to a six-month schedule. This will help keep and maintain your car in a good state during the winter.
3. Test Your Brakes
Your brakes need to be in good condition to stop your car safe during the winter. Make sure to test them regularly, primarily if you haven't used your car in a while. If they're feeling weak or spongy, it might be time for some maintenance. Have your brakes checked by a professional and replace any worn-out parts as necessary.
4. Check Your Anti-Freeze
The anti-freeze stops the water in the radiator from freezing. If it freezes, you can damage your car's engine and even damage or crack the radiator itself. Make sure they're at a 50/50 mix and top them off if necessary. Many mechanics recommend this, resulting in a lower engine freezing point than just coolant.
5. Keep an Eye on Your Tires
In winter weather, it's crucial to have good tires with plenty of treads. When the temperature drops below freezing, tire pressure will also decrease. Low tire pressure will not only reduce your gas mileage, but it can also cause premature tire wear and affect handling and make your wheels more vulnerable to damage from potholes.
Ensure they're properly inflated to the correct pressure and rotate them every few thousand miles. If you find out that your tires are worn off, then it's time for a new set. You may consider winter tires to work better in lower temperatures than regular tires.
These include tread patterns and rubber compounds specifically intended to grab snow and ice for maximum traction on wet roads. Winter tires often have a shorter tread life and produce greater road noise than your vehicle's all-season tires. However, the added security they provide is usually worth the trade-off.
6. Freeze-Proof Your Windshield
One way to keep your windshield from freezing over is to pour a pot of hot water onto the windshield just before you get in the car. This will help melt ice that may have built up while parked.
You can also spray your windshield with a vinegar solution with three parts vinegar and one part water. This vinegar solution will help prevent frost and ice from forming on your windshield, and if you are in a hurry in the morning, the same mixture will melt the ice.
7. Check Your Wiper Blades
Your car wipers are essential in winter weather. Make sure they're functioning correctly and replace them if necessary. If your windshield is covered with snow or ice, it's crucial to have good wipers to clear the glass quickly and effectively.
While it's possible to extend their life by cleaning the rubber edge of the blade periodically with a paper towel and glass cleaner, it isn't safe enough to do that all winter long. It is recommended to replace wiper blades as often as twice per year.
8. Test and Examine Your Battery
The colder weather can take a toll on your car's battery. Make sure to check the battery voltage and charge it if necessary. A weak battery can leave you stranded in the cold, so better be sure to test it before the cold weather hits.
To find out if you need to purchase a new one, have a volt test performed on your current battery before winter starts to make sure it's still in good working order. If it's not, you can buy a new battery separately and have a trusted mechanic install it for you, or you can install it yourself from the comfort of your own home.
9. Visit and Clean Your Engine
Over time, the dirt and debris can accumulate in your engine, making it work harder and eventually fail. Ensure to clean your machine regularly- especially in winter when there's more potential for buildup. Use a quality car cleaner to get all the dirt, making it ready for the winter.
10. Lubricate the Door Hinges
The cold and moisture can cause your door's hinges to prevent it from opening and closing. If your car doors start to feel stiff or challenging to open, it might be due to a lack of lubricant. Lubricating the door hinges can help fix this issue and make opening and closing the doors easier.
11. Clean Your Windshield
The windshield is the part of the car that often gets dirty the quickest. Make sure to clean your windshield regularly as the water will drip down when the ice melts, and it can cause the interior to get wet. This can also cause corrosion on the metal parts of your car. Don't use your wiper blades to remove ice from the windshield; use an ice scraper instead.
12. Don't Over Fill Your Tank
One of the most significant issues in maintenance during winter is making sure your gas tank isn't overfilled after filling up at the pump. If you put too much gasoline into your car, this can freeze, damage your fuel injectors and cause issues with starting up in colder weather.
13. Clean the Lights
Ensuring your car's lights are clean is another important aspect of winter car maintenance. The dirt and debris can quickly accumulate on them, reducing visibility while driving, especially at night.
Check that all the vehicle's lights are working properly and lenses are clean so that you'll have optimum visibility at night and motorists front and rear will be able to see you. Use a car wash or clean them with water and vinegar, then rinse thoroughly before drying off with paper towels.
14. Clear the Windows
If you can't see through your windows, you are at risk. Do not try using the wipers or the new blade to get rid of the ice. Using ice scrapers will be a good option in the winter. Place the windshield wipers in elevated positions if the snow starts falling overnight.
With dirt and mud being removed from your car, it may mean you will use your windshield-wash frequently, so keep your windshield-washer bucket filled.
Must-Have Car Maintenance Items
- Extra tires
- Tire chain
- Ice scraper
- Automotive tools
- Extra car battery
- Spark plugs
Basic Car Repairs You Should Know
- Changing of tires
- Replacing of spark plugs
- Changing of oil
- Tuning up
- Replacing of headlight and taillight
- Replacing of wipers
Whether you're a first-time driver or have been driving for years, preparing your car for winter is always essential. If you've followed the advice in this blog post, then winter should be a breeze. Your vehicle will be ready to take on ice and snow with ease because of your proactive approach. Now get out there and enjoy the rest of winter!