Don’t Let Cold Weather Claim Your Car
Over 70 percent of motorists admit that they did not have their cars winterized in preparation for inclement weather, according to a survey conducted by the Car Care Council.
It’s not too late to prepare your vehicle for harsh winter weather. The Car Care Council recommends the following tasks be performed by a do-it-yourselfer or professional automotive mechanic:
- Check the Coolant: The coolant (antifreeze) should be flushed and refilled every two years in most vehicles.
- Change Oil Every 3,000 Miles: Consider changing to a “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate.
- Check the Battery and Exhaust System: Cold weather can be harsh on batteries, and can often lead to startup failure if you’re not maintaining your battery well.
- Be Certain the Heater and Defroster Are Working Properly: The heater is for comfort. The defroster is for safety. It’s highly dangerous to drive around with a foggy windshield.
- Keep the Gas Tank at Least Half Full: This decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
- Check Tire Tread Depth and tire Pressure: Consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
- Check to See That Lights Work and Headlights Are Properly Aimed: Poor visibility is one of the most dangerous aspects of winter driving. Staying on top of this is paramount for safety.
- Replace Wiper Blades Every Six Months: Consider special snow blades if the weather dictates.
Engine and Cooling System
First, if you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer, get under the hood. Otherwise, visit your friendly auto repair service. Winter only magnifies existing problems like pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling, so make certain the engine is in peak condition. Check the cooling system, too.
Coolant should be flushed and refilled every 2 years. Your folks will not necessarily know this, so don’t wait for their nod on this one.
Check the owner’s manual to see if your driving habits are considered to be “severe service.” The Council warns that this type of driving requires more frequent oil changes. Have the oil changed accordingly, usually every 3-5,000 miles. For less wear and tear on the engine, drivers in cold climates (sub-zero driving temperatures) should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30. Your mom and dad would probably suggest simply moving to someplace warmer.
Four Other Musts
The battery and exhaust system are other “must check” items. These should be examined using professional equipment. Make certain the heater/defroster are working properly and keep the gas tank full. In addition to staying ready for the road, a full fuel tank decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
Now for the outside of the vehicle — tires, lighting, and wipers. Both tire tread and tire pressure should be checked weekly. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. Lights should be inspected regularly. Check to see that bulbs are illuminated, and headlights are properly aimed. Finally, replace wiper blades every six months. Consider special snow blades if the weather dictates.
Even the most meticulously maintained vehicle can develop problems on the road, especially during inclement weather. That’s when it pays to be prepared for an emergency. Use your trunk space for something more than a spare tire (which, incidentally, should be properly inflated, just in case).
Also, pack items that would be needed if you got stranded for several hours. A cell phone (with a car charger) is a good start. Also include the following: an ice scraper, windshield de-icer, flashlight, whisk broom, blanket, extra clothes, candle/matches, bottled water, snacks, and needed medication.
While an ambitious do-it-yourselfer is certainly capable of thoroughly winterizing their car or truck, some people would rather save themselves some time by leaving it in the hands of a professional. If that sounds like you, we’d be happy to do the job.
This is a service we offer to countless clients during the colder months. Our mechanics are highly experienced and passionate about cars. Whether you’re looking for auto repair services or preventative jobs such as winterization, Savannah Car Care will get the job done. Contact us today!