Is your car prepared for winter?
The cold months are right around the corner, so now is the perfect time to review your vehicle and make sure it’s ready. The cold can present unique challenges for your car, but getting it properly winterized is a relatively easy and inexpensive process that can save you more than a few bucks in the future and make you considerably safer on the road.
In this post, you’ll learn about:
- Why you need to check your vehicle’s fluids and possibly exchange them for cold-weather alternatives
- The difference between all-season tires and snow tires
- How to see if your battery will last through the winter
- A cool trick to get into a frozen-shut door
- And more
Let’s get started before the ice hits the road!
What Car Fluids Should You Change Before Winter?
There are three primary fluids you should check before the winter months arrive: the coolant, the oil, and the wiper fluid.
Depending on how cold it gets in your area, coolant fluid generally needs to be check and possibly replaced. Having the correct amount of antifreeze in the radiator will prevent freezing.
If temperatures in your area drop below freezing levels regularly, it’s sometimes a good idea to switch to a thinner grade of oil for the engine. We say “sometimes” because it depends on the vehicle—check with your local mechanic or your vehicle owner’s manual.
Finally, and this one’s actually quite important but often forgotten, check your wiper fluid and replace it with a freeze-resistant variety. This will help keep your windshield clean from mud and debris that tends to splash up, especially the day after it snows.
Inspecting Your Tires & All Season vs. Winter Tires
Check your tire pressure and tread depth. It’s possible (but never recommended) to “get away” with semi-worn tires or lower-than-suggested tire pressure in the summer months, but once the roads become wet and slick, it’s a recipe for disaster. If necessary, get new tires.
All-season tires are fairly common (they may be what’s on your vehicle now). In warmer climates where winter isn’t too severe, as long as the tread depth is good they’ll probably serve you just fine. However, in colder climates where snow and ice are more common, winter tires can make you considerably safer on the road.
Winter or snow tires come in a variety of styles for different purposes. If you’ll be driving through lots of snow, you may want winter tires with studs on them for extra grip. The tread on winter tires is usually designed to offer more grip, preventing sliding, slipping, or hydroplaning. Your fuel efficiency may drop a bit since these kinds of tires are heavier, but the tradeoff for better handling in cold weather is well worth it.
Even if your vehicle is front-wheel drive only, it’s recommended to replace all four tires with winter tires.
Checking The Car Battery Before Winter
Did you know that your car battery capacity can be reduced by cold temperatures?
Perform a full inspection of your battery and the surrounding area before winter arrives to prevent being stuck somewhere in the cold—not fun. Start by checking the outside of the battery and surrounding cables.
Look for cracks in the cabling. If present, replace them before it gets cold outside because lowering temperatures will only make things worse. Next, check the terminals. Everything should be fitting tightly without any loose-feeling connections. If there’s corrosion, clean it with a chemical solution. Finally, check the battery fluid levels by removing the cap(s). If it’s looking a bit low, refill it with distilled water only.
If you’re unsure about your battery, take advantage of BG’s battery services to make sure you stay on the road.
How to Prevent Frozen-Shut Car Doors
Here’s a neat tip. Have you ever been frustrated by frozen-shut doors? Did you find out that if you try to force a locked car door open with your key the key can break?
Here’s an easy way to avoid it: every so often throughout the winter, lubricate the lock on the driver’s side door with a silicone spray. Unless there’s an extreme amount of ice, this can make getting the door open considerably easier.
If you’re in a very cold climate and run into this kind of problem often, keep a de-icing solution (usually glycerine) on hand in the garage at home and in your desk at work. Storing it in the car isn’t the best place for it. After all, it’s not going to do you much good if it’s in the glove box and your doors are frozen shut!
How to be Extra-Prepared for the Winter Months
The sure-fire way to be prepared for the winter months is to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic at your local BG service center. An expert can review your vehicle from top to bottom to make sure that it’s going to make it through the winter without leaving you out in the cold. Drive safe this winter!