Our guide for winter car maintenance will prepare you for the event of temperature drop & all sorts of problems can befall your car, from a flat battery to reduced tire pressures.

The winter is here already, and it might be a great idea to begin preparing for it ahead of time before it is full blown. This year you should take extra precautions to maintain your vehicle throughout the winter. Although you may receive different tips from different people, some tips are worthy of noting down. The first thing to take advantage of is FREE winter car checks. Some repair shops offer this trial to potential / current consumers. You should check for this service at car repair shops around your way. Some shops do not offer this as a free service, instead, they provide a discount. You will realize that preparation helped you save hundreds of dollars in the long run.

So, at the top of the list for winter car maintenance is to pack your own survival kit!

Winter Supply Kit/ Survival Kit/ Emergency Kit

You can prepare your own winter supply kit for the winter. The kit will help you in times of need. Swing by your local hardware store and pick up a winter emergency safety kit! These handy little kits often contain jumper cables, orange cones, thermal blankets, bungee cord/zip ties, gloves, a small scraper, a multi-tool, clothes, batteries and more! Don’t forget your phone charger for your car as well!

Get Winter Tires!

During the winter tires help you very much. Getting the right type of tire for a particular situation is crucial. You’ve heard it before but if there is only ONE step you want to follow this is the one. Studies have shown that using summer tires in winter can add almost 50% to your braking distance! Be winter smart and make the switch! Check out the infographic down below to get more information on what tires to use for driving in the snow.

Car Battery & Charging Systems

Another crucial component of the car is the battery. In the winter time batteries are more likely to die out as your vehicle needs more current to fight the cold! Your vehicle is likely equipped with a voltmeter or battery symbol that shows how much charge you have left. Since the cold weather puts unusual demands on the charging system, it is better to check the car’s electrical system. Better safe than sorry, right?

Winter Windshield Washer Fluid/ Wiper Blades

Low visibility can make driving in cold weather hazardous, so it's important to make sure the wiper blades are up to par. The wiper blades are made from rubber so in time they will deteriorate. So check your wiper blades before deciding to replace them. Winter windshield washer fluid contains additional additives like methanol, ethanol, ethylene or glycol that lower the freezing point of the fluid and do a better job coating and clearing your windshield. You can find the washer fluid on Amazon or at a department store. Wiper fluid can assist in breaking up snow and ice on the windshield.

Check Your Defrosting, Anti-Freeze/Heat Units / Engine Coolants

When our windshields fog up in the winter, it's because moisture from inside the car condenses on the glass and makes it very difficult to see. Water vapor coming in from an open window - or even from your own breathing -- can fog up a window. Defrosters solve this problem by blowing warm, dry air over the glass. Confirm that your heating system works correctly, and the core doesn't leak, the blower works and the window defroster is operating. Antifreeze is the magical substance that keeps your engine from freezing during those times of the year when you feel like you are freezing. Without it, your engine can and will freeze. You can also directly check your antifreeze levels by following the instructions in your car’s manual.

Check For Water Leaks & Cracks

If there are minor cracks around your vehicle they should be attended to. Because during the winter season, these minor cracks may enlarge and hamper your vehicle even more. Although they may be small now, after a crack freezes, water can freeze in them and get into your lights or make the crack even worse. The same goes for leaks. Generally speaking, leaks from your vehicles water pump, hoses or radiator when fittings, hoses, clamps or other components have worn out or are not properly attached- are several reasons for leaks. There are many different places leaks can surface, so be sure to check your hoses, radiator and water pump for damage. If any of these three are leaking, your car heater won’t work correctly.

Foil Windscreen Cover.

No more scraping frost and snow in the subzero morning. A foil windscreen cover will do its job from snow, frost, and ice.

Check Your Car's Belts and Hoses.

Inspect the underside of accessory drive belts for cracks or fraying. Many newer multi-rib “serpentine” belts are made of materials that do not show visible signs of wear; replace these belts at 60,000-mile intervals. Even if you're not getting a tune-up this winter, it doesn't hurt to have a mechanic take a look at how everything is holding up around your engine. Cold temperatures can weaken belts and hoses, and if something snaps or breaks while you're out on the road, a tow truck will be the only way to get moving again.

Transmission, Brake and Power Steering Fluid

Extreme cold can cause the transmission fluid to thicken. As a result, it loses its velocity, shift points become delayed, and shifting gets harder. Thicker fluid also translates to poor lubrication of internal parts, causing premature wear. So in order to keep your vehicle warm in the cold temperatures, you must store it in a warmer environment, for example, your garage. Now for the brakes, if you have moisture in your brake fluid, the cold can cause the water to freeze. In return, there will be extra pressure in the brake system and as a result, will cause the brakes to drag.

When your vehicle is parked outside in cold weather, the hydraulic fluid gets thicker and is harder to pump through the system. The only way it warms up and thins out is when the pump is working and the fluid warmed up by the movement of the pump pushes the cold, thick fluid out of the lines back to the pump. You may have heard a loud groaning/whining noise coming from the engine compartment of your vehicle when you started up a cold-soaked vehicle and noticed that it goes away as the engine warms up. That is your vehicle’s power steering pump starving for hydraulic fluid which lubricates the pump’s internal mechanisms. Running the pump with decreased lubrication causes the pump to wear out quicker.

There’s really nothing you can do to avoid the initial fluid starvation. However, it would be wise to let the vehicle idle until the initial groan/whine is gone before driving off. That keeps the RPMs as low as possible until the pump gets thoroughly lubricated and will avoid previous repairs.

Final Word

All these changes are useful for operating a motor vehicle in the winter months, but if you do nothing else, include an emergency box in your car. That one goes beyond keeping your car running well and keeps you and your family safe in the case of a winter car emergency. Regular checkups and winter car maintenance always do justice for your car. In the long run, it will pay off. On that note, have a safe winter and enjoy the holidays.

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