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Winterizing Your Auto

Vehicle Driving in the Snow

When fall weather starts turning colder, there are quite a few preparations to take. You’ll want to winterize your house and property, as well as your vehicles. You can do some of the maintenance and servicing your vehicle needs, and some may require a mechanic. 

Have your car serviced: If it gets quite cold where you live, or if freezing temperatures and snow are typical, you should make sure to have your auto winterized before the weather arrives. Have a trusted mechanic check the battery, cooling system, and brakes. This service should also include checking the belts, hoses, spark plugs, wires, and cables.  

Install winter wipers: Install winter wipers that are better equipped to handle ice and snow and avoid ice accumulation. Do remove these when spring comes around, so you don’t burn out the motor, as they are heavier and are more taxing on the system. If you don’t think you need winter wipers, this is an excellent time to replace the ones you have.

When checking your wipers, make sure your rear-window defroster is working.

Switch your tires: Winter tires are a good idea if you live in a part of the country where freezing temperatures are frequent during winter months. Winter tires use special compounds engineered to resist hardening in cold temperatures, providing better traction on icy roads. If you live in an area prone to heavy snowfall, having a set of chains (and knowing how to use them) is recommended.

Some cities even require drivers to use them in these conditions, so make sure to find out if you will need to have them on hand. Make sure you are maintaining the proper tire pressure for your vehicle by checking your tire pressure regularly. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations specific to your car.

Top off fluids: Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is always at a reasonable level, and consider keeping a spare container of the fluid in your trunk since wiper fluid can run out quickly when battling snow and ice on your windshield.

Keep your gas tank at a minimum half full at all times in the winter to avoid freezing gas lines, but also in case you are stranded in cold weather. Running your engine can keep you warm while you wait for help to arrive. Remember never to run a car engine inside a closed garage or other enclosed areas.

Verify you have your emergency kit: Getting stuck in your car during freezing conditions can be life-threatening, so having a basic emergency kit in your vehicle during these months is essential. Items to put in your emergency kit include flashlight and extra batteries, matches, non-perishable food, water, warm clothing and extra blankets, hand warmers, jumper cables, car tool kit, first aid kit, bag of sand and shovel, ice scrapers, flares, extra antifreeze, and a solar charger for a cell phone.

All vehicles, including boats, motorcycles, and motor homes, need to be winterized to avoid costly repairs or dangerous conditions. Please consult your manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular vehicle or take it to a reputable service provider to be winterized before use or storage for the season.