With winter fast approaching, it is time to think about winter maintenance for your vehicle. In colder weather, most of the parts of your car have to work much harder.
Let’s start with the heart of your automobile, its battery. Your car’s battery has to work harder to start your engine. When the temperature drops to near zero, the number of calls AAA receives from stranded motorists soars, and “the most common cause of these cold-weather breakdowns is weak or dead batteries.” If your battery is older than three years, you might want to give it some extra attention. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces and re-tighten all connections. You should avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves and be careful not to go across the battery terminals with anything metal (wrenches, screwdrivers etc.) Be careful not to touch the positive battery terminal to any metal on your car.
Tires are the next crucial component to winter travel. If your tires are worn out, they will not be of much use in winter weather driving. Check your tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire-pressure once a month and rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
As for the fuel system, you should add a bottle of fuel de-icer to your fuel tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line.
As for the cooling system, the level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended and one must refer to you vehicles operating manual). Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled!
The condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should also be checked.
Regarding the engine performance, you should have your engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, loss of power, etc.) corrected at a quality repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters – air, fuel, PCV, etc.
Oil Change – your oil and oil filter, as specified in your car’s owner’s manual, usually every 3,000 miles or so is recommended. Also check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle requires different viscosity oil for the winter.
Emergencies – You should carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, jumper cables or a car battery booster pack (some of the newer battery booster packs have a built in flashlight and a 12-volt plug to charge your cell phone), a flashlight, and a cell phone. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box. You want to be prepared if you become stuck or if your car becomes disabled in a snow storm.
Remember a little bit of before travel car care can be the difference to having a successful journey. Have a safe and happy holiday season.