Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Winter
Mechanical failure an inconvenience anytime it occurs can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.
Some of the following tips can be performed by any do it yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.
- Engine Performance - Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, dimini shed power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters air, fuel, etc.
- Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
- Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop - and - go or consists of frequent short trips.
- Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.)
- Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber - clad (winter) blades to fight ice build - up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
- Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
- Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cableconnections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
- Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
- Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
- Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance.Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
- Carry emergency gear - gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.