Auto Assets recommends the following steps for winterizing your vehicle:
- Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
- Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, blades should be replaced every six months.
- Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
- Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
- Be diligent about changing the oil and filter every 3,000 miles if conventional oil and 5,000 miles with synthetics. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to a “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. We also recommend service to your fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
- If you’re due for a scheduled maintenance, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
- Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item. Brake fluid is hygroscopic – meaning it absorbs moisture. It is important that the brake fluid be flushed every 2 years to keep the moisture content below 4%.
- Have the exhaust system checked for leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
- Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and that headlights are properly aimed.
“When the cold temperatures arrive, many people stay inside and don’t take proper care of their vehicles,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Getting the car ready while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance and helps ensure safety and reliability during the upcoming winter months.”
Motorists should also keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Drivers should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.