Winterize Your Car Before Deep Freeze Arrives
UPDATED November 16, 2011
By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West
The extreme cold of winter can be very harsh on your car, possibly causing a breakdown that strands you far from home. The American Automobile Association recommends that you do the following to prepare you and your car for the long cold winter ahead.
Check the Battery
Extreme cold weather can zap car batteries of the power needed to start and run a car. Batteries older than 3 or 4 years are more susceptible to fail, especially if they are having trouble starting a car during warm weather. Have your battery checked by your local mechanic to make sure it is in good working order. Replace it if necessary. Also, don`t forget to carry jumper cables in your car in case your battery fails.
Check the Tires
AAA says that the tires are the most neglected part of any car. Every fall, they should be checked to make sure that they are properly inflated and have enough tread to provide sufficient wet traction. If you live in a climate that gets snow or ice, tires should be rated for "all-season," at a minimum. In very snowy areas, summer or all-season tires should be replaced with snow tires before the first snowfall. Some states won`t allow cars on the road when they are covered with snow unless snow tires and/or chains are installed on the vehicle. Check with your state`s highway department for further information.
Check the Engine
The oil, antifreeze, air filter, belts and hoses should be checked at the beginning of the winter season. Oil should be changed regularly to keep an engine running at its maximum efficiency. Antifreeze should last between 2 to 5 years, depending on the type. If it`s been awhile since you`ve had it changed, take it to the mechanic to have it checked. At the same time, have your mechanic check hoses for leaks and belts for signs of stress.
Check Wiper Blades and Washer Fluid
Wiper blades tend to only last one to two years, so if they haven`t been replaced recently, be sure to replace them. While you are at the auto store buying new wiper blades, pick up several gallons of washer fluid. You will likely go through most of it in one season clearing salt spray from the windshield.
Assemble a cold-weather car kit
If you are likely to be driving on desolate, rural roads or areas prone to snow and ice, it is recommended that you carry a cold-weather car kit. In this kit, you should pack the following items:
Coat (in case you have to walk), blanket, gloves and warm clothes Paper towelsHigh-energy, non-perishable food and water, or sports drinks Flashlight, flares, and a first-aid kit Bag of abrasive material for traction, such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litterSnow brush and scraper Snow shovel Working and fully-charged cell phone to call for help
By following these tips, you will be less likely to have problems during the winter.
Story image: Ice-covered cars line an ice-covered road near Albion, N.Y., on Jan. 29, 2007. (Brenden Skilskyj, WeatherBug user)
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