Don’t Get Iced By Winter
By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®
Get your car ready for winter now and avoid costly repair work later
Winter Car Care Tips
Walking through a winter wonderland sounds nice when it’s set to music, but if your car breaks down on a freezing cold night, you’ll wonder why you didn’t winterize your wheels when you had the chance.
Now is the time to prepare your car for the coming cold weather so you can avoid serious problems later. The change of seasons is a good time to check your car’s various systems to see if they’re working properly. Cold weather could make any current problems much worse and leave you on the side of the road. Check your tires, check your brakes and make sure everything is running correctly.
Land of the freeze
Here is some advice for motorists who want to get their cars ready for winter. Here are some of the items you should include on your checklist:
• Have a mechanic check your car’s cooling system for the correct mixture of anti-freeze and water. Worn out coolant will rust your engine from the inside and could destroy your engine. If left unchecked, it can lead to major engine damage and hefty repair bills.
• Change the oil every 5,000 miles and use a quality brand name oil and oil filter. I prefer full synthetic, premium oil, especially if you have high mileage on your vehicle. Royal Purple HMX is a high-mileage synthetic motor oil specifically designed to minimize wear and restore lost performance in engines with more than 75,000 miles. Used in tandem with a Royal Purple oil filter you can go up to 15,000 miles between oil changes. Don’t forget to check your oil once a month.
• Make sure the battery and charging systems are in good condition so they can provide maximum starting power under the worst conditions. Have your favorite ASE mechanic test the system.
• Have your belts and hoses checked for cracks and leaks. If the hoses are soft, have bulges, or have slow leaks at fittings, they should be replaced before they lead to real problems.
• Change air filters every 12,000 miles or every six months. Use a quality brand name filter—this will give you better fuel economy and performance.
• Windshield wipers, brakes and exterior lights also need to be inspected. Replace old blades and, if you live someplace where the winters are tough, get winter blades to fight ice build-up. Also get winter washing fluid, which does not freeze as readily as the summer grade.
• If you own a diesel vehicle, consider an additive like Max-Tane. Max-Tane is a high performance fuel system treatment designed specifically for diesel-powered cars and all types of light, medium and heavy-duty diesel trucks to improve fuel economy, help your vehicle start quicker and protect the engine in cold temperatures.
Tire and Ice
Then there are your car’s tires. Good tires mean good traction when there’s snow on the ground. Most cars come with all-season radial tires that can be used for light snow. If you expect to be driving in heavy snow, you should invest in four tires specifically designed to keep you going in the snow. A spare winter tire also makes sense.
The ExtremeContact DWS is Continental’s fine-tuned, ultra-high performance all-season tire. The ExtremeContact DWS (tuned for Dry, Wet & Snow) delivers improved performance. If you drive in snow at least three times a year, I highly suggest a true winter tire. The ExtremeContact Winter tire, which I use for my vehicles, offers dramatically improved ice and snow traction. The tire also delivers noticeable improvements in wet performance, excellent fuel efficiency, extended wear and ride comfort, and considerable improvements in dry performance.
Here are some additional tips:
• Never reduce tire pressures to increase traction in snow, ice or mud.
• If you do use chains, make sure they are the right type and size for your tires. Mismatched chains can cause tire failure.
• Check your tire pressure frequently in cold weather. The tires will lose about 1-2 p.s.i. (pounds per square inch) of pressure for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature drop.
All motorists should keep emergency gear in their cars. The list include:
• Jumper cables
• Flashlight with new batteries
• First Aid kit
• LED Flares
• Protein bars and bottled water—in case you’re stuck waiting for help.
• Snow brush with ice scraper
• Blanket for every passenger
• Cell phone (inexpensive emergency plans are available)
• Road service card
• Paper towels
• Extra washer fluid
• Work gloves
• Basic tools
Keep the windshields, back windows, side windows, headlights and taillights clean. Ditto for the wiper blades and top and hood of your car.
The secret to a safe winter “is to see and be seen.”