Winter Car Care and Preparation:
Today we’re going to discuss the importance of proper winter preparations. A few minutes of caution can prevent you a lot of frustration down the road.
There are a few systems on our vehicles that are heavily impacted by the cold weather, so it is vital that we give a little extra tlc throughout the winter months.
Engine cooling system: The cooling system is what maintains proper engine temperature and prevents overheating. It is also the source of the warmth we get when using the heater.
When the engine is running it creates a high amount of heat, the cooling system is there to absorb and distribute the heat in order to keep things cooled down. In order to do this it uses antifreeze/coolant, the coolant is added to a system consisting of the radiator, water pump, thermostat, heater core and a few others. The coolant travels through hoses to the engine block, where it absorbs the heat radiating from the firing cylinders. It then moves back through the system and up to the radiator where it is air cooled by external air or by a fan assembly.
If the cooling system fails in the winter it can cause a lot of problems, and you will likely lose heat, and you never want to lose heat in the winter.
Check your cooling system for proper fluid level at the coolant reservoir if equipped with one (Will have yellow cap and an engine/temperature icon, be sure not to confuse with washer fluid reservoir, see images below for samples) If there is no coolant reservoir then check for proper lever at radiator cap *ONLY do this after the vehicle has had time to cool down, never release the pressure on a hot system.
Tires: Always make sure you have tires that are in good condition and can handle the snow if you are expecting any, losing traction can happen in a split second, so make sure you are one step ahead. Also make sure to properly set your tire pressure, remember that as temperature drops so does your tire pressure, rule of thumb is 10 degrees is equal to 1 psi.
Windshield wiper system: Make sure you have the right washer fluid for the temperature that you are expecting, sometimes washer fluid is very water based/diluted, and if this happens the system can freeze up. Also make sure your wiper blades are in good condition, you don’t want to get stuck in a snow storm and then remember that you were supposed to have replaced them months ago, been there before and it’s not fun. You can get washer fluid at parts stores for a few bucks, a lot of convenience stores and gas stations will have it available as well.
Fluids: Check to be sure fluids are all at proper levels, and if any need to be replaced it’s smart to do it now. In my opinion our cars work a little harder than they’re used to when it’s cold out, so the least we can do is freshen things up and make it a little easier on em.
Lights: Inspect and verify that all lights (headlights, brakes, turn signals, hazards) are working correctly. Hazard lights are important to have functioning correctly in case of emergency, so double check that they are working.
Emergency kits: It is advisable to keep a first aid/safety kit with you. Basic supplies such as bandages, heat blankets, jumper cables etc. (Check out the bottom of the website for a link to a good roadside emergency kit)
These are all a few basic things that you can check out in your own garage. If you need tires then look online and find a local dealer who is having a good sale and go there, it shouldn’t be hard to find since that is one thing they all stay pretty competitive. For any more serious work I advise you take it to a a local trusted repair shop. If you are comfortable doing things on your own then I encourage you to go forth and have fun while you learn. You can comment any questions here or email firstname.lastname@example.org andI will help you out with whatever I can!