The Time Has Come! Winterize your vehicle!
If you owned a car before 1980, then winterizing your car was a necessary and often elaborate ritual to keep your car running in tip-top shape during the cold weather months. Fortunately, modern cars don’t require the same extensive winterization routines. Auto technology allows cars to start in the coldest weather without their owners having to do anything special. Let’s keep ourselves and everybody else on the roads safe!
Quickly, here is an easy guide to follow to keep your travels safe during our Washington Winters–
BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER
*Change your wiper blades
*Check your battery – keep your battery in good condition
*Have your 4WD checked
*Check your anti-freeze mixture
*Get your brakes maintained
*Stock essential emergency supplies in your vehicle
*Change the oil and adjust the viscosity
*Check your belts and hoses
*Keep your gas tank at least half full
*Let engine warm up
*Clean all debris from your vehicle
*Check your tire pressure
*Check your oil – make sure you’re using the right engine oil
*Keep your washer fluid full
*Service your vehicle regularly
–Read on for more tips & tricks to keep you safe during our winter months on the road!-
Change your wiper blades and refill your wiper fluid. Our winters include rain.. a lot of it, too! Cold rain, cool rain, and sometimes frozen rain! You need to see the road in order to drive safely. Working windshield wipers and a solid supply of wiper fluid will ensure that you have a clear line of sight even in the worst conditions. Wiper blades are only good for a year. Replace yours if they look frayed or worn.
Check your battery. Cold weather isn’t great on your car’s battery. The chemical reactions required to generate power in a car battery slow down in colder temperatures. A great way to test your battery before the possibly cold days and nights hit it to have a mechanic run a battery load test to see if you need to replace the battery. Even if you don’t, they will check for and clean up any corrosion they may find on your posts and connections. The mechanic might also fill your battery with distilled water if needed.
Check your four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive can provide better traction when driving on snowy and icy roads… that is if it’s working correctly. Have your 4WD checked by a mechanic before winter weather sets in to ensure the system engages smoothly and that the transmission and gear fluids are at their correct level. Also, if you haven’t used your vehicle’s 4WD in awhile, now’s a good time to review how to operate it. Don’t get caught in the predicament of a surprise snow/ice storm without having your 4WD working properly!
Check your anti-freeze mixture. If you would like to to check the composition of your radiator’s fluid, you can pick-up an inexpensive anti-freeze tester at your local auto parts store. The mixture of anti-freeze and water in your radiator should be about 50:50. This will prevent the coolant in your radiator from freezing.
Check your breaks. Even though cold weather may not hurt your breaks, a complete inspection can ensure the best performance when driving in any condition, especially wet and cold Washington winters.
Stock your car with emergency supplies. You never know when you’ll get stranded on the side of the road. Be prepared by having your car packed with emergency supplies. Kitty liter was a must have while we were growing up. It not only puts extra weight in the back of your vehicle, but if you get stuck on ice and/or snow, then just throw some kitty litter down for traction. Water, a blanket, an extra jacket, and even some snacks stored in your vehicle is never a bad idea. Here are some more essential ideas for emergency supplies to store in your vehicle:
Change the oil and adjust the viscosity. In order for your engine to run, it needs proper lubrication from oil. Unfortunately, cold weather reduces the oil’s effectiveness. Colder weather equals thicker engine oil, which doesn’t circulate through your engine as easily as thin oil. Consequently, your engine doesn’t get the lubrication it needs during start-up and you’re left with a car that won’t start. To prevent this cold weather headache, change your oil to one that is thinner to begin with. You can check the owner’s manual to find the proper viscosity (that’s the thickness or thinness of a liquid) of oil your vehicle requires in the winter months. They usually have information on proper viscosity levels for different climates.
Check your belts and hoses. Check your belts and hoses for any signs of wear and tear and have them replaced if needed. Cold temps can weaken them, and your belts and hoses help make your engine run. If a belt snaps while you’re driving, you’ll have to wait for a tow truck to come pick your cold butt up.
Keep your gas tank at least half full. You may think the ethanol in your gas is enough to act as an antifreeze and prevent freezing in your fuel tank, but condensation can form in the empty part of your gas tank, which can freeze (if it gets cold enough). If this happens, then you may end up in a no-start situation. It’s easier to keep the gas tank half full, in our opinion.
Let the Engine Warm Up. Although you may not have to let your engine warm up as long as it was needed before the modern day vehicle, a brief bit of idling time before you drive gives the oil a chance to heat up, thin out and flow more smoothly, and you’ll want that to happen before you ask your engine to do any serious work. By the way, there’s no need to rev the engine; it’ll warm up just fine at idle. If your car idles higher than normal when first started, waiting until the idle speed drops before putting the car in gear will save wear and tear on your automatic transmission.
Drive gently until the temperature gauge starts to move off the bottom peg or until the cold engine light goes out. Remember, cars can still overheat in winter, especially if the radiator grille is clogged.
Check your tire pressure. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tire’s air pressure will drop about 1PSI. This means you should check your tire pressure regularly during our winter months, since we never really know what temperature we’re going to get day to day. *Your vehicles appropriate pressure for your tires can be found on the tore place card in the driver’s side door jamb or in your vehicles owner’s manual.
Prevent Freeze-ups. Water can get into door and trunk locks and then freeze, locking you out of the vehicle. Has this ever happened to you? It did to me, and although the neighbors found it hilarious to see me with my hair dryer trying to “unfreeze” my door.. I didn’t. So, to prevent this, just lubricate the locks with a silicone spray or door-lock lubricant. Use a lock antifreeze product to thaw them if they’re already frozen.
If you don’t already have floor mats in your car, you should pick up a pair. For maximum protection, a set of rubber all-weather floor mats will keep mud, water, debris, etc. from seeping through the carpet and into the car’s floorboards. If you do buy aftermarket floor mats, be sure they won’t interfere with operation of the pedals.
In closing, different vehicles require different solutions when it comes to any service. This is a basic list to start from. At GT Auto Sales in Tacoma, we appreciate our community and are always here to help in any way we can!
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