How to Winterize Your Car

written December 1, 2015


The Starks of Winterfell said it best: Winter Is Coming! While it is certainly true in the fantastical world of Game of Thrones it is also true for many drivers across the United States, which means certain precautions must be made to ensure you get to and from your destination safe and sound. Thankfully, DriveSafeToday.com has collected a few tips on how to prepare your car for the winter.

Check your car battery

When the temperature plummets your vehicle’s battery becomes stressed more than usual and there is a real possibility of being stranded out in the cold because the battery refuses to cooperate. The first thing you should do is hire a professional to check the battery’s charge. If it is too low get it replaced immediately. Let the auto repair shop take care of it or you can do it yourself if you are handy enough. For batteries that do not need to be replaced, clean off any corrosion caused by battery acid caked onto the cable connectors. Dip a toothbrush in a baking soda and water solution and scrub away to clean off the gunk. Remember to dry off the battery before reconnecting it.

Check the undercarriage

Inspect the bottom of your car for anything that might be hanging too low to the ground. Depending on the level of snow your area gets winter you want to check the bottom of your car because any part of it may catch on random snowdrift which will damage your vehicle. And since many important parts are located in the undercarriage, any damage to that area can become expensive problems.

Replace the antifreeze

The purpose of antifreeze is to protect your cooling system from corrosion, overheating, and freezing. Having old antifreeze means a greater chance of one or all of these happening to the engine. Replacing a busted engine can cost as much as a new car so it is in your best interest to get in front of the issue. Take your car to a mechanic and have them check and if necessary flush out the antifreeze and replace it.

Replace old windshield wipers

An easy and cheap way to prepare your car for the winter, if the wipers leave streaks it is a safe bet they should be replaced immediately. Most windshield wipers have an average lifespan of a year so if it has been that long since you had them, replace the wipers as soon as possible.

Replace old oil

DriveSafeToday.com has recommended this maintenance tip on many occasions because it can never be stressed enough; it is crucial to have clean oil in the engine. Engine oil gets thicker as the weather gets colder which means your engine has to work harder to run. Whether you change the oil yourself or take it to a mechanic, have the oil filter changed as well. If you only need to refill the oil, we recommend a multi-viscosity oil like 5W-20 and 5W-30. Please check your owner’s manual to see which oil your vehicle requires.

Check the tire pressure

For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature drops tires lose about one pound of pressure, and underinflated tires are not able to cut through the snow and catch the road, which is as dangerous as hydroplaning. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct air pressure your tires need to be and inflate it to that.

Consider snow tires

Speaking of tires, you might want to think about investing in a set of snow tires (and snow chains if you live in an area that requires it). These tires were meant for inclement weather and will perform much better on snow-packed roads than all-season tires.

Get rid of fallen leaves

Leaves and small branches tend to find themselves in the nooks and crannies of your car, which are often ignored when it comes time to clean it. However do not make this mistake; debris buildup can clog up drains and prevent water from flowing out and away from your car, which can cause leaks and corrosion. The grill right under the windshield wipers is the prime spot where this could happen but you can find fallen leaves under the trunk as well. With winter just about ready to make its appearance being prepared will prevent a ton of headaches. By winterizing your car you will save a ton of money on maintenance and keep you safe as you drive.