Helpful Tips for Winterizing Your Car
Now that we’ve weathered the first hard freeze of the year, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your vehicle for the rest of the winter. While cars and trucks are not as susceptible to cold related problems as they once were, there are still a few things to do that will help keep you from getting stranded. Over the next few months, Cedar Rapids car owners will likely endure the worst winter has to offer: snow, ice, sleet, howling winds, subzero temperatures and road conditions that would challenge the toughest vehicles around.
While you can’t control the weather, there are steps you can take to make your winter driving safer and to protect your vehicle.
Replace Windshield Wipers and Wiper Fluid – Windshield wipers usually last for about a year, less if the previous winter was particularly rough. Be sure to test your windshield wipers and fill up the wiper fluid before the snow flies. If your visibility is low in a garden-variety rainstorm, driving through a snowstorm will be even tougher with the car in front of you kicking up all kinds of road grime, salt and sand.
Test Four Wheel Drive (4WD) – Since many drivers don’t use their four-wheel drive system when the weather is nice, remember to turn on your 4WD system before the first snow and test it to be sure it’s working properly. Make sure it engages and disengages easily and that all the drivers using that vehicle know when and how to use it. If you are not sure how to test your 4WD, your mechanic can check it for you at your next visit.
Check Tire Pressure and Consider Snow Tires – Be sure to check the air pressure in all your tires regularly in the winter. Poorly inflated tires decrease traction, increasing the likelihood of slipping and sliding on the roads. If you drive in hilly and/or particularly slippery conditions, you may want to consider switching to snow tires. The rubber compound and tread on snow tires is made to grip the road more securely for improved traction.
Inspect Belts and Hoses Regularly – Cold temperatures are tough on rubber belts and hoses. If a belt or hose fails, chances are you’ll be stuck where you are out in the cold, miserable weather. Be sure to have your mechanic inspect all belts and hoses at each oil change and tune up, particularly in the winter months.
Right Amount of Antifreeze – In the summer, antifreeze raises the boiling point of engine coolant to prevent it from overheating. However, in the winter its purpose is to keep your vehicle from freezing up. Make sure the antifreeze you choose has the right freeze protection for the climate in the upper Midwest. The correct ratio of antifreeze and water is also critical. For winter driving, experts recommend 50/50 water / antifreeze ratio.
Check Oil and Oil Viscosity – Like your belts and hoses, the oil you use in your car is reacts to cold temperatures. When the thermostat drops, oil tends to thicken and this can negatively affect your engine’s performance. Low-viscosity (thinner) oil will help your engine run better even in the coldest temperatures. Be sure to ask your mechanic about the best type of oil to use for your car and the season.
Get Your Battery Checked – Your car battery likely seems to work great when the weather is bearable, but we all know that Iowa winters can bring days and even weeks of sub-zero temperature. The colder it gets, the harder your battery may be to turn over. Newer batteries will likely have a better chance of surviving the cold, especially if you park outside.
At 5 Seasons Tire, we can help you keep your car running in top condition all year long. In addition to taking care of all your tire needs, we do general auto repair, tune-ups, automotive winterization, oil changes, engine repair, and much, much more. Make an appointment today, and stay safe on the road every day of the year.