A recent study conducted by researchers from RL Polk discovered that the average age of light vehicles in the U.S. is 11.6 years old. Drivers who wish to see their car’s 12th birthday should better prepare it for winter. Winter brings new dangers and components that may damage and degrade vehicles. Thankfully, these issues can be avoided with just a little preparation. This report describes seven winter car maintenance tips that help motorists be prepared.
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7 Winter Car Maintenance Tips
Your car is more than a financial asset. It is a sign of freedom which lets you visit friends, run errands, work and carry out other tasks essential to your everyday life. To make your car last, however, you will have to prepare it for winter.
The subfreezing temperatures and snowy weather in this time of year can take a toll on your vehicle. And if you do not prepare your vehicle with this seasonal change, you could face expensive repair bills. Here’s how to get your car ready for winter.
#1 Wash and Wax the Exterior
One of the best winter car maintenance tips is to simply wash and wax your car’s exterior before winter. This will guard its clear coat and paint layers from harm. During winter, you might find snow and road salt covering your vehicle. The mix of acidic snow mixed with abrasive, corrosion-accelerating salt can easily degrade your car’s clear coat, thereby exposing the underlying paint layers to harm. Washing and waxing your car’s exterior, however, can protect it from this and other types of damage.
By washing your car at least every 2-weeks through winter, you can cut down on the quantity of dirt left to sit exposed metal, stopping rust in its tracks. Even if it’s only a quick blast with a hose or pressure washer, this will dislodge deposits and help to keep the undercarriage in a fantastic condition for longer. Be certain that you reach underneath and clean out the sills to do away with all of the dirt.
A high-quality wax such as Turtle Wax will protect the paintwork from moisture, salt and road dirt, which makes it much easier to retain your vehicle’s shine through the winter. It lasts between washes as well so that you can blast your vehicle with a hose without destroying the protection. You could also clean and detail your car interior.
#2) Check Tire Pressure
Maintaining proper tire pressure allows your to automobile to create better grip with the road and reduces the risk of blowouts. If your tires contain a decreased pounds per square income (PSI) of pressure than recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, inflate them to the recommended amount. If they contain a greater PSI, deflate them.
Bear in mind that tire pressure frequently drops during winter since cold weather causes the air inside your tires to contract. Therefore, some car manufacturers recommend using a higher tire PSI during winter and a lower PSI during summertime.
How to check tire pressure
Checking tire pressure is simple. You can do it right in the home or in the gas station. Just be certain that you check the pressure when your tires are cold or have not been driven in a number of hours. This will provide you with the most accurate reading.
The main piece of equipment you will need is the accurate tire pressure gauge. A fantastic tire gauge should not put you back more than $15–a worthwhile investment for a longer life to your tires.
Be Sure to have your producer’s PSI handy when you’re checking your tire pressure, then follow these steps:
- Take the valve-stem caps off (do not lose them!)
- Put the tire pressure gauge to the valve stem and press down quickly to get a reading.
- Check the PSI reading. Compare that to your vehicle’s recommended PSI.
Assessing the air pressure in your tires should take only a couple minutes and is well worth the protection and savings you will gain!
#3) Switch to a Low-Viscosity Oil
If the motor is the heart of your car, the oil is its lifeblood. Especially in winter. The year’s single-digit temps may cause your engine oil to flow too slowly or not at all — that can really take a toll on your motor at startup. And that is what makes choosing the proper engine oil so important.
W Stands for Winter
Motor oil is measured by its viscosity — essentially how thick or thin it is. The higher the viscosity, the slower it flows. All motor oils have been given a rating grade by the Society for Automotive Engineers, for instance, 5W30 — the “W” stands for winter and the oil’s cold weather rating.
The lower the W number, the greater the oil will perform in colder temperatures. Ordinarily, a 5W oil is suggested for winter use, but synthetic oils can be formulated to flow even more easily when cold. This way, they have the ability to pass tests that satisfy the 0W score.
To evaluate an oil’s ability to deal with cold weather, look at both numbers displayed in its kind. Multi-grade oil, such as 5W-30 type, features two amounts. Five describes the oil’s weight in chilly weather, whereas 30 describes the oil’s weight after the engine has warmed up. Selecting an oil with a lower second amount, for example, 5W-20 means it’ll be more viscous and, therefore, better suited to winter.
A multi-viscosity 5W30 oil flows faster in cold weather and is advised for year-round protection, and a synthetic 5W30 multi-viscosity will offer the best protection you can get in both exceptionally cold weather and extremely hot motor temperatures.
Whether you follow my winter car maintenance tips about oil viscosity, or someone else’s, what is really important is that you check your car or truck owner’s manual to ascertain the appropriate viscosity grade, engine oil specification and oil change interval.
#4) Test the Battery
Both hot and cold weather can degrade your vehicle’s battery. Statistics show that the average car battery is only good for approximately four decades. Once it’s reached the end of its usable life, it may fail to maintain a strong enough Charge to start your vehicle or keep it operating. And while auto batteries can fail During any season, drivers frequently encounter this issue during winter.
To see if your vehicle battery remains good and ready for winter, test it with a voltmeter. When it’s holding a solid charge, it should read at least n.6 volts when the engine is off and between 13.7 and 14.7 volts when the engine is operating. If you get a reading below this amount, consider replacing your battery to better prepare your vehicle for winter.
Check Car Battery Connections
It is important to properly maintain the parts around your battery also. Make sure wires, posts and fasteners are in great shape and check battery connections to affirm that they are tight and clean. Use a stiff wire brush to clean off any corrosion and secure the battery into the battery tray to prevent excessive perspiration.
#5) Check Radiator
Being that the radiator is used to cool your vehicle’s engine and stop it from overheating; you may be wondering why it is important to test it before winter. Well, radiators cool engines by transferring heat through liquid called coolant. Coolant is comprised of more than just plain water, however.
Additionally, engine coolant includes antifreeze, such as ethylene glycol or propylene glycol. With no antifreeze, subfreezing temperatures might cause your vehicle’s coolant to freeze while inside the motor. When this happens, the engine block could literally crack open, causing thousands of dollars in repairs.
How to Check Radiator Coolant
To make sure your car is ready for winter, check the radiator while the motor is turned off and cold and make sure it’s full of 50/50 coolant. If the radiator is not completely filled with coolant, top it off with the essential amount. In most cars, coolant should get to the surface of the radiator neck.
If you are willing to devote the time, you can go one step further by doing a cooling system flush. This involves draining all of the coolant from your vehicle’s radiator, radiator hoses, heater core, hoses and engine, followed by refilling it with new coolant.
#6) Switch to Winter-Grade Windshield Washer Fluid
Empty your vehicle’s windshield washer fluid reservoir and wash it with a winter-grade washer fluid. Activating your vehicle’s windshield washer jets with normal washer fluid can cause your windshield to ice over. Standard washer fluid does not include antifreeze, so it obviously freezes in ambient temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
Having a sheet of ice over your windshield when you’re driving is never a great idea. Happily, some windshield washer fluids can be found in a winter formulation that either does not freeze or freeze at considerably lower temperatures than standard washer fluid.
Some drivers also swear by using 99 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol as windshield washer fluid throughout the winter. With a freezing point of approximately minus no degrees Fahrenheit, it’s unlikely to freeze. The issue with using rubbing alcohol as washer fluid, however, is that it might degrade your car’s paint. Rubbing alcohol is a solvent, so it can wear down your car’s paint. Stick with winter-grade washer fluid to preserve your vehicle’s exterior.
#7) Clean the Headlights
The cleanliness of your vehicle’s headlights will affect your visibility when driving If it is raining, sleeting or snowing dirty headlights may limit your ability to see clearly, thereby increasing the possibility of a collision. You may wash your headlights, however, using a headlight restoration product.
Available at most auto parts stores, it is used specifically to restore and clean headlights back to their original look. As an alternative, you can use a solution of water mixed with equal parts distilled white vinegar to clean your headlights.
A cloudy appearance on a polycarbonate or plastic lens isn’t necessarily the product of oxidation. Sometimes, built-up grit and grime can lend a hazy look to these surfaces. Give your headlights a thorough wash before making the decision to move forward with oxidized light repair.
In case you’ve got a little bit of engine know-how, check your brake pads, brake discs and brake fluid to make sure the brakes are fast and responsive. In addition, keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in the event of an unexpected delay. Finally, Ensure that drive belts are tight and not worn and that spark-plugs and other leads are in good condition and secure.
Do not let your car succumb to the brutal effects of winter. Follow these seven winter car maintenance tips to prepare and protect it from harm. If you do not feel confident making these checks, any garage should be able to assist.