In part one of our two-part blog series on winterizing vehicles, we discussed ways in which to prepare your vehicle’s tires, wipers, and windshield wiper fluid for winter. In part two, we will discuss what to do about your vehicle’s battery, oil, coolant, and fuel.
Your vehicle’s battery is always discharging a bit of energy, and this is especially true in cold weather. Whether you have had the battery for a long time or are experiencing troubles getting it started or just to be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to get a new one for winter. Avoid buying a battery with a manufacture date older than 6 months. In addition, in areas with extremely cold temperatures, externally powered battery warmers, battery blankets, or engine block heaters are recommended to warm up the battery before starting the engine.
For those who live in areas where temperatures reach below freezing during the winter season, your engine oil may change depending on the temperature at which your engine is running. you may want to consider the type of oil you are using for your vehicle. Therefore, you may want to consider the type of oil you are using for your vehicle and switch to thinner oil. For example, if you normally use 10W-30, you should try 5W-30 during the cold season.
Your vehicle’s coolant system is not only intended to keep your engine from overheating, but also responsible for protecting your engine against corrosion. Before the weather gets too cold, make sure you flush your engine coolant and replace it with coolant containing ethylene glycol to help protect your engine. Every vehicle requires a certain ratio of coolant to water, and your owner's manual or repair technician can explain what your engine needs. For most vehicles, an optimal winter ratio is 60% coolant to 40% water. Adjusting this ratio is an important step in winterizing your car, so please be sure to consult with someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in this field before attempting any maintenance on your vehicle.
In winter, try to keep your gas tank full at all times to avoid empty fuel lines in your vehicle. When fuel lines are empty, they could generate moisture which could potentially freeze in low temperatures. This could prevent your vehicle from starting. It is also a good idea to keep your car stocked with gas to avoid being stranded on the side of the road with no heat in cold conditions.
Lastly, make sure you have some sort of emergency kit in your car to provide you with helpful items during certain situations. The kit should include extras such as:
· Extra windshield wiper fluid
· Jumper cables
· Bag of salt or cat litter (to add tread if your car is stuck in the snow or ice)
· Snow brush, ice scraper, and shovel
· Flashlight, road flares, and first aid kit
· Extra water and food
· Warm blanket or jacket
Having these items in the trunk or backseat of your vehicle could prevent problems you may not have anticipated, such as ice build-up on your windshield or a dead battery that is preventing you from going to or leaving work.
With these tips and the proper winter vehicle maintenance maintain, you will hopefully experience less of these common problems during the winter season. Advanced preparation will be your greatest asset on the road this winter in ensuring safety for you, your family, and your vehicles.