As the seasons change, motorists must take steps to safeguard their vehicles, especially when morphing from autumn to winter. Each winter, many vehicles are subjected to sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfall, and icy roads, and these conditions can take their toll on your vehicle over time. Taking steps now to prepare your vehicles for winter weather is a vital step that can make cars and trucks safer for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Here are a few suggestions to get your vehicle winter ready.
Battery. Old batteries should be replaced before winter begins. Without a strong, properly functioning battery, engines cannot turn over. Most batteries last between three and five years. However, extreme cold can compromise batteries, especially those that have been around awhile. Batteries are made up of acid and water, and cold temperatures can freeze the water, thereby affecting your battery’s performance. It’s said that at 32 F (0 C), the average battery loses 35% of its strength.
Newer batteries can be protected by starting the vehicle each day to warm up and recharge the battery. Let the car run for at least ten minutes if you cannot take an extended drive.
Exterior Maintenance. Keeping a car waxed and sealed can help maintain a durable exterior finish. This includes not only the paint, but the rubber and vinyl parts of the car’s exterior. Winter is a good time to switch to a heavy-duty synthetic wax that can shield against water and road salt and act as a barrier. High-quality sealants can be used on bumpers, trim and rubber door seals as added protection. Speak with an automotive retailer or even a car dealership if you are unsure which products will make your car’s parts most durable for winter weather.
Don’t let the cold weather stop you from washing your car. Slushy, wet roads and snow melting salts can speed up the formation of rust and other decay on the undercarriage of the vehicle. These materials will need to be periodically cleaned off. Flush the underside of the vehicle whenever possible, taking advantage of any dry, slightly warmer day.
Tire Pressure. According to some automotive experts, vehicle tires lose a pound of air pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Many modern cars will alert you to changes in air pressure, and drivers should be diligent in maintaining the proper tire pressure. Handling ability and fuel economy can decline when tires are not inflated properly. For a small fee, you can refill your tires at your local gas station.
Wipers. Visibility is key in hazardous weather conditions, so keeping the windshield clean is a priority. This means making sure there is enough winter windshield fluid in the car. There are several kinds, but you want the one that will not freeze during winter. Wiper blades can freeze and crack in the winter, and older blades may be more susceptible to damage. It’s a worthy investment to replace existing wiper blades at the onset of each winter season. When vehicles are parked, pull the wipers off of the windshield to safeguard them from sticking and cracking.
Cold weather requires drivers to amp up their vehicle maintenance routines. Talk to your mechanic or automotive retailer for more ideas and products that can help your vehicles operate safely and efficiently this winter. Safe driving.