Essential Car Care Tips for the winter

As temperatures begin to drop, there are five important tips that you should keep in mind when it comes to winter car care. The last thing that you want is for your battery to die when you are far away from home or to get into a crash because of fogged-up windows. By taking just a few simple steps, you can prepare yourself for winter, helping to ensure that your car runs smoothly all season long. 

Take Care of Your Battery

Freezing temperatures can really do a number on the battery in your car. When it gets cold outside, the battery cranking power is significantly reduced. For example, a typical car battery has approximately 50% less cranking power at 0°F than at 80°F.

Performing a battery inspection is a good idea. The owner’s manual for your vehicle should provide detailed instructions. In general, however, the process involves lifting the battery’s plastic caps to make sure that the level of fluid is correct. If there isn’t enough fluid, you may need to add distilled water. If you have a battery that doesn’t require maintenance, there should be an indicator on top that lets you know how much of a charge it has. If the charge is weak or if the battery’s age exceeds five years, you should consider buying a new one.

Battery testing is usually available at repair shops and stores that sell car parts. In some cases, you may be able to get by charging your battery if it is a little bit weak. In other cases, however, it is best to just bite the bullet and replace it. Don’t forget to carry jumper cables in your car, as well.

Check Your Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades wear out a lot more quickly than most people expect. Based on our research, we have found that all wiper blades, including high-performance models, become much less effective after just half a year. If you start noticing streaking on your windshield or if the blades aren’t making contact with certain areas, you should replace them.

You may be able to get them to last a little bit longer by using a clean cloth and some glass cleaner to clean off the blades. Usually, however, when they start to show signs of wear, it is best to just replace them. This is especially true during the winter. Ideally, you should buy new blades a couple of times a year. The installation process is typically quite easy. In most cases, you can also get them installed for free at stores that sell car parts.

Keep Your Windows Clear

Driving with foggy or icy windows is not only dangerous for you but also for other drivers on the road. Avoid trying to loosen ice with your windshield wipers. If your windows are frosted, use a scraper to remove the ice instead. If there is snow in the forecast, leave your windshield wipers lifted up off your windshield so that they don’t freeze in place.

Winter roads often result in messy driving conditions. Oftentimes, dirt and mud can get flung up on your windshield. Make sure to check your washer fluid level regularly. If necessary, add an agent that will keep the fluid from freezing, as well.

Don’t forget to check your heater, as well. The defrost feature should be working perfectly so that you can keep your windshield from getting foggy. If your car windows are exceptionally foggy, you may want to turn on your air conditioner at a moderate temperature to help remove excess humidity.

If you are going into the winter with a crack on your windscreen, get it fixed. A reputable company can help prevent this from spreading and the resulting windshield replacement. Remember, even the smallest chip can spread and become a large crack.

Don’t forget to check your headlights, as well, to make sure that they are working correctly. If necessary, clean the lenses so that other drivers can easily see your vehicle on the road.

Make Sure Your Oil Doesn’t Need To Be Changed

Cold temperatures cause motor oil to become thicker. This can make it more difficult for your engine to start. Be sure to read the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find out what type of oil is recommended for your car. During the winter, look for motor oil that has a W in its viscosity index. Motor oils with this designation are specifically made for use during the winter. As a general rule of thumb, most vehicles use standard motor oils such as 10W-30, 5W-20, or 5W-30. Typically, these motor oils are versatile enough to be used throughout the year, including during the winter. Don’t forget to replace your oil filter when changing your oil.

If you take your car in to have the oil changed, ask if they can check your hoses and your radiator, as well. Any hoses that are brittle or that show signs of wear should be replaced.

In terms of your coolant, opt for a one-to-one ratio of water to antifreeze. This is usually more than adequate unless the temperature drops far below 0°. If you live in an extremely cold environment, you may need to adjust the ratio, adding additional antifreeze to a maximum of a 70 to 30 ratio.

Think About Replacing Your Tires

Worn tread can make it more difficult for your tires to stick to the road. Just before the winter season is the ideal time to buy new tires. When choosing tires, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of snow tires versus all-season tires to decide which option is best for your vehicle and your area.

If you live in a region that doesn’t get a lot of snow, you should be able to get by with all-season tires. Make sure that the tires have been thoroughly tested in snowy and icy conditions and that they have performed adequately under those conditions. Ideally, you should replace all of your tires at the same time.

For parts of the country where there are snowy, icy roads throughout the entire winter, snow tires are a good investment. These tires are designed with special tread that provides additional traction on roads that are covered with ice or snow. Snow tires usually are a lot louder and don’t last quite as long as all-season tires. When it comes to safety, however, they are definitely a worthwhile investment in areas that get a lot of snow.

Finally, don’t forget to make sure that your tires are properly inflated. Air temperature changes can cause changes in your tire pressure, meaning that you may need to add more air.