Winter Car Care That Will Keep You Safe
The colorful yellow and red foliage of autumn indicates that its time for winter car care. While a lot of vehicle owners assume that winter is the easiest time of the year for their vehicle, the fact is that the biting cold can prove detrimental for several systems in the car if the vehicle is not prepared correctly for the season.
Start Winter Care with the Battery
The power of the battery goes down significantly in freezing weather; while the device works wonderfully in summer, getting the ignition going in winter can be a real task. Ideally, vehicle owners should enlist the help of a professional to check the performance of the battery well before winter; especially if the unit is more than four years old. However, despite all efforts, dead batteries are a common winter experience. It would be best to have a portable power pack handy, so that you don’t need another vehicle to jump start the car.
Getting the Cooling System Ready
This is probably the most important winter car care tip. Water expands in volume when frozen, so the amount of pressure exerted on the radiator can increase. A few days of sub-zero temperatures is all it will take to ruin the radiator. While using anti-freeze instead of regular water is the simplest solution to the problem, if the ratio of water to antifreeze is incorrect, the coolant will freeze causing damage. A simple tool called the Ball-Type Tester or testing strips can be used to check the freezing point of the coolant.
The Temperature Control System and the Fuel Tank
A properly working temperature control system is a necessity in winter; the heater/defroster will not only keep the driver and the passengers comfortable, but it also plays a vital role in windshield visibility. Make sure that the gas tank is full in winter as this prevents the accumulation of moisture in the fuel lines which can cause a rupture. Try using a bottle of gas line anti-freeze before the temperature drops. The product helps to remove any accumulated moisture from the gas tank which may be a result of a bad batch of gasoline. Another fluid to think about is the oil; if you live in a particularly cold climate then make sure that the oil is fully synthetic for easier start ups on the engine.
Lights, Wipers and Tires
Check all the lights and the wiper blades before snow fall; they are extremely important for a safe drive during winter. The depth of the tire treads and the air pressure can have a bearing on your safety, so make sure that you check the winter tires thoroughly (and always check the spare as well). The air pressure often goes down in response to the plummeting temperatures. Because you will need the best traction in winter months, if the tires have bald spots, it’s time to change them. If heavy snowfall is common in your city, you may want to consider investing in inexpensive dedicated snow tires which can either have small spikes or a special rubber and pattern.
The exteriors of the car should also be protected in winter to prevent damage due to the salts and chemicals on the road. The best solution would be to cover the exterior surface with a generous coating of wax. For rear wheel drive vehicles, a bag of sand in the trunk will offer the additional traction needed for the cold months.