Winter is coming! If you live in a cold climate, it is crucial to winterize your car, so it’s ready to keep you safe and comfortable during the cold months. Nothing is worse than heading out on a cold morning to a car that won’t start. Thankfully, we have some great tips for preparing your vehicle for the winter, and as they say, prevention is better than cure!
Here are ten easy steps that will help get your vehicle prepared for winter.
Step 1: Park in a safe location
It’s important to park your vehicle in a safe location. It is best to park on a flat surface, not on an incline or decline. Park your car in well-lit areas visible from your home, but also ensure that it is out of sight of vandals and thieves. If possible, park in a garage or secure location. If you cannot do this, there are ways you can search for parking options that could protect your car from cold temperatures. Many cities around America have brilliant parking options for reasonable prices; we found long term parking in Washington dc to park your car in garages that will keep your vehicle safe, secure and out of the cold. Finally, secure your car with locks or chains if you have anything valuable.
Step 2: Cover the vehicle to protect its exterior from wind, rain, ice and snow
It’s important to remember that your car needs protection from the elements during the winter months. You can use a tarp; however, it’s more convenient to use a heavy-duty car cover or garage if you have one available.
Step 3: Check your tires
Checking your tire pressure is an important part of ensuring that your car’s tires are ready for winter driving. The correct tire pressure will help prevent premature wear, which can lead to dangerous blowouts.
How do you check the proper tire pressure? First, check the manufacturer’s recommended PSI on all four tires. Next, look at your owner’s manual for more exact specifications on this number, and then fill each tire with air until it reaches that mark.
Once you have completed this, drive around for about 15 minutes at highway speeds for the tires to warm up and give an accurate reading of their proper PSI—this is especially important if it’s cold out! Then take another reading using the same method as before; if it differs by more than 5 pounds per inch from last time around, something needs fixing ASAP because underinflated tires won’t handle well during the harsh winters ahead.
Step 4: Fill the gas tank.
Fill up at least a quarter of a tank before starting your trip, and top off your tank when possible. Don’t let the fuel gauge get below 1/4 tank because it will be harder for gas to flow through the lines when there is less pressure in the system. Also, avoid letting your gas tank get below a quarter of its total capacity. If this does happen, fill it up immediately!
Step 5: Check all fluids.
Checking fluids is always a must, especially in the winter.
- Engine oil: Check your vehicle handbook or owner’s manual for how much oil is needed and how often it should be changed. If you don’t have one, check with a mechanic for advice on when to change your vehicle’s engine oil.
- Coolant: Check the coolant level using a dipstick and add more coolant if needed. Tighten the radiator cap. If loose, air can get into the cooling system and cause rust or damage. Ask a mechanic whether they recommend a particular brand of antifreeze or water-conditioning agent in this step.
- Brake fluid: Brake fluid should also be checked regularly during winter because freezing temperatures affect viscosity. Although brake fluid has been known to work at even lower temperatures than 30 degrees Fahrenheit, we recommend reviewing your vehicle handbook just in case yours requires more frequent checks during cold seasons.
Step 6: Replace wiper blades and install winter windshield wipers
Winter wipers are designed for cold weather. They’re made with metal or other materials that can stay flexible in freezing temperatures and a rubber squeegee to clear snow and ice from the windshield.
If you need to replace your wiper blades, it’s best to buy winter-specific wiper blades. These are designed specifically for colder weather, so they’ll work better than regular ones on frozen windshields.
If you’re unsure whether you need new ones, check your condition: are they worn out? If they look old or damaged, it’s time for a new set.
Step 7: Disconnect the battery or use a battery tender.
If your car does not have a built-in battery disconnect switch, you must purchase and install one or use an automatic trickle charger.
A fully charged car battery can be stored for up to three months without any problems but leave it disconnected for more than six months, and it will likely be ruined by sulfation. That’s why it’s essential to disconnect the battery before winter storage.
To disconnect your car’s battery, you can follow this handy guide.
Step 8: Check the brakes
When checking the brakes, you should also check the brake fluid too. Try to use a manufacturer-approved DOT 3 hydraulic brake fluid. If you aren’t, it’s likely that your vehicle may not have been appropriately maintained or has also sustained some damage in the past and could require repairs before it’s safe to drive again.
Next, check for any leaks. Leaking fluids alone doesn’t necessarily mean your car needs immediate attention. Still, they do indicate that there is something wrong with your vehicle that needs addressing before you can use it safely in freezing temperatures.
Finally, inspect brake pads and rotors for signs of wear and tear (including cracks). Any damage will mean costly replacements will be needed soon!
Step 9: Empty the trunk of everything you don’t need.
This step is vital if you plan to store your car away from home. Empty the trunk of everything you don’t need and put your emergency kit in it. You don’t want to leave anything of value in the car.
Step 10: Carry an emergency car kit
Carrying an emergency car kit is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers. It should include the following:
- a flashlight
- a blanket
- first aid kit
- spare tire and jack, tire pressure gauge and lug wrench
Hopefully, you’re feeling confident about winterizing your vehicle. If you follow these steps and do a little research, you can ensure your car is ready to take on the cold weather ahead. You can also set yourself up for success by preparing a few weeks in advance so that when that first big snowstorm hits, you won’t panic!