Tips on How to Prep Your Vehicle for the Changing Seasons
What You Need to Do Before the Snow Comes
The wise winterize their car before the first hard freeze and even if you’ve missed that deadline there’s still time before the first snow flies.
At the top of your list should be an overall servicing of your vehicle. Let’s look at the specifics of what ‘winterizing’ entails.
- Tires – You’ll need at least all-weather if not snow tires. Depending on your location and the rules and regulations that may mean studded tires. Studded tires have metal studs in the tread. Un-studded tires have special tread patterns. Both are made of softer rubber that allows them to maintain flexibility in freezing conditions.
- Make certain that whatever tires you have that the tire pressure is correct. One of the worst things is to venture out in the morning when it’s still dark and cold as it can be and see the tire pressure warning light on the dash. Cold weather will cause your tire pressure to drop as much as 1 psi per 10-degree drop in temperature and you don’t want to be one of those many people trying to get a service call to put air in your tires early the morning.
- Don’t forget snow chains if you live in a jurisdiction that requires them or you could face a hefty fine or be faced with buying chains at scalper’s prices on the road. There is a variety of easy-on snow chains available now and if you don’t want to go that route make certain you have some cash in the glove box to pay someone to put them on for you.
- Battery – Time to check and see if your battery is up to snuff for the cold weather. Cold weather puts a strain on your battery and it’s best to replace it now than to find you’ve got to wait for a tow at the end of a long day, or worse, you can’t get to work on time in the morning. Go to your local mechanic and have your battery load checked. If no replacement is needed then check and clean any corrosion on the battery posts and connections.
- Windshield Wipers – It’s tough to drive when you can’t see. Replace your wiper blades if they are a year old, or look worn. There are special wiper blades for winter weather, so if you’re in an area that sees a lot of snow consider purchasing them. You’ll need to fill up your wiper fluid and you find a variety of wiper fluids rated by degrees that have lower freezing temperatures.
- Anti-Freeze – The water versus antifreeze ratio should be 50-50. Your local auto parts store will have a low-cost tester you can use to find out quickly. If you haven’t had a radiator flush in the last five years now is the time to do it. Antifreeze will be good for up to five years. Some vehicles recommend a change every so many miles so check your owner’s manual.
- Oil – Cold weather affects the lubricating effectiveness of your oil as it thickens the oil. If the oil doesn’t flow, you’ll find your car won’t start. It’s advisable to change your oil to a thinner one for the cold weather months. Check your owner’s manual to find the recommended viscosity level for your car’s oil in cold weather. Go ahead and change the oil early so you have the best possible lubrication for your engine in the cold weather.
- Belts and Hoses – Cold weather will weaken belts and hoses so start out right with ones that aren’t showing cracks or wear and tear.
- Lights – Make certain all your lights are working and the lenses are clean. Not only do you want to see, you want others to see you. Make a point of turning on your headlights whenever you start your vehicle in the winter and leaving them on. Rainy, snowy, foggy days minimize visibility.
- Braking System – Make certain the brake fluid level is optimal and if your rotor or pads are worn that they are replaced.
- Heating and Defrosting Systems – Turn on both the heater and defroster to make certain they are working.
- Fuel and Air Filters – Replace both fuel and air filters if needed and keep at least a half tank of gas during the cold months to keep moisture from freezing in the gas line.
- Exhaust System – Have this checked as if it malfunctions you will have carbon monoxide in the interior of your vehicle, which can be fatal.
- Emergency Supplies – Nothing’s worse than being cold, hungry, thirsty, and stuck. If you get stuck there are a few things you’ll want to have on hand in the car: lock de-ice lubricant, either aerosol or spray pump de-ice for the windshield, jumper cables, flashlight, emergency flares/reflective triangles/cones, a lighter, a bag of sand/kitty litter, ice scraper, snow brush, non-perishable snacks, water, space blanket, cell phone and charger, first aid kit, rubber boots/comfortable shoes (in case you have to walk), heavy waterproof gloves, rain poncho, hand/boot warmers, and, $20 or so in cash in the glove box. You may want to put an old cell phone in the car permanently and keep it charged that way you will always have access to at least 911.
Before the winter months come around, book a service at Zeck Ford. We specialize in Ford vehicles, but our servicing center can cater to any brand of vehicle and ensure your car or SUV is ready for the upcoming winter. With the fastest servicing around at a great price, we’re sure you’ll make it an annual duty to come into Zeck Ford in Leavenworth.
Our servicing technicians are some of the most knowledgeable around, and we itemize everything we do so you can see exactly what you’re getting for your money. For a Ford service in Leavenworth, we really can’t be beat.