As summer gives way to the crisp winds of fall, it’s important to take a break from pumpkin spiced bliss and address the more mundane concerns of this season. Cold weather presents many challenges for your car, and proper maintenance is essential in this season to prepare for the snow, ice, and dropping temperatures ahead.
Image via Flickr by OregonDOT
Change Your Oil and Filter
Cold weather presents new challenges for your car, and the right fluids are essential for meeting them. Drivers in cold climates need to switch to winter weight oil. This oil has a lower viscosity and moves more freely in cold weather. You should also invest in a new oil filter in preparation for the season. If it’s 20 degrees out, your oil is about as thick as maple syrup. You need a filter that can stand up to the pressure of thicker oil to avoid a blown-our sealing ring or burst canister.
Check and Replace Fluids
Stop in to your local service center and have the coolant ratio adjusted. Most cars need 60 percent coolant to 40 percent water in winter. You should have the antifreeze flushed and refilled once every two years. Check your transmission, battery, and windshield washer fluids as well. Your car care manual offers invaluable details about the best winter fluids and maintenance intervals for your make and model.
Take Care of Tires
Worn tires are always hazardous, but this danger is particularly prevalent in winter. Low tread, cupping, and uneven wear can make it difficult to maneuver in snow and ice. Have your tires rotated before the fall and winter seasons, and invest in new ones as needed. Check the pressure of your tires regularly. In cold weather, they will lose about one pound of pressure per 10 degrees of temperature. Stash a pressure gauge in your glove box, and make a note of the nearest place where you can inflate them, so you’re ready for the dropping temperatures.
Inspect Your Battery
Cold weather reduces your battery capacity, so it’s important to make sure this part of the engine is in good condition. Inspect the battery cable for breaks or cracks, and make sure the terminal fits snugly. If you battery has a hydrometer eye, you can check the remaining charge easily. If not, ask your technician to do the job with a handheld hydrometer.
Replace Your Wiper Blades
Snow and ice are tough on your wiper blades. Rubber-clad blades are ideal for winter. Even if your climate doesn’t produce a lot of ice, it’s important to make sure your wipers are in good condition so you can maintain visibility in any kind of weather.
Refill Your Emergency Kit
You should keep an emergency kit in your car at all times with essentials like jumper cables, flares, drinking water, and a first aid kit. In fall and winter, you need to bulk up these supplies with items like an emergency blanket, tire chains, a small shovel, extra gloves, and sand or kitty litter.
With proper preventive care, you can avoid many of the hazards of the fall and winter seasons, freeing your family to enjoy the holidays and festive cheer.