Cold Weather Car Care Tips
Winter is finally here! Here are five easy car care tips for peace of mind until spring arrives. You don’t want to be left stranded by a dead battery or have an accident because you can’t see out your windows. If you haven’t taken some of these preventive-care steps, better do them right away so you’re prepared for the big chill. Because it’s here!
Your vehicle’s battery is especially hard hit when the temperature drops down into the freezing zone. Cold temperatures greatly reduce its cranking power. Fact: A battery has only about half the cranking power at 0° F than it has at 80° F. To check a conventional battery, remove the plastic caps on the top and check the fluid level. (See your owner’s manual.) If the fluid is low, top off with distilled water. For maintenance-free batteries, check that the window at the top of the battery indicates a full charge. If your battery is more than five years old and shows any signs of weakness, replace the battery with a top-rated model before it leaves you stranded someplace.
You really need to replace wiper blades more often than you might think. Testing by Consumer Reports shows that even the best-performing wiper blades begin to lose their effectiveness in as little as six months. Streaking or missed areas of glass are indicators that the blades are ready for replacement. You can stretch their life by cleaning the rubber edge of the blade periodically with a paper towel and glass cleaner periodically, but it isn’t safe to do that all winter long. Buy yourself some new blades. Experts recommend replacing wiper blades twice per year. Most are easy to install, and some stores, like Advance Auto Parts, will put them on for you free of charge.
If you’re having difficulty seeing out the windows, you’re a danger to yourself and everyone else on the road. Don’t try to use the wipers (and those brand-new wiper blades) to remove frost and ice from the windshield. Use an ice scraper on those frosty mornings. If you park your vehicle outside, placing the wipers in the raised position when it’s going to snow overnight will keep them from freezing to the windshield.
During the winter months it’s more likely that dirt, mud, and salt residue will be kicked up off the road. You’ll probably be using your windshield washers more frequently, so keep your windshield-washer reservoir filled with a winter-blend washer solution that contains an antifreeze agent. Also make sure the defroster is functioning properly and that nothing is blocking the warm air from being directed to the windshield. Here’s a trick to help prevent your windshield from fogging up. Run the air-conditioning system with the temperature set at a comfortable level to dehumidify the air.
This is a good time to check that all the vehicle’s lights are working properly, too. You’ll feel more secure knowing you have optimum visibility at night and that other motorists, front and rear, will be able to see you.
Cold weather is tough on your engine, too. Motor oil thickens when cold, making it harder for the engine to turn over when starting. You’ll want to check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation, but generally, you should be using multi-viscosity oil that has a “W” in the viscosity index. That signifies that it’s formulated for winter use. Some typical formulas recommended for modern engines include 5W-20, 5W-30, and 10W-30. All of these provide good oil flow at low temperatures and most can be used year-round. And it’s always a good idea to replace the oil filter every time you change your oil. This will ensure the system has the maximum amount of flow for the most efficient operation.
You will want to keep your coolant mixture at about a 50/50 ratio of antifreeze and water. This will keep your coolant from freezing until temperatures sink well below zero. If you are going to be traveling where conditions become colder, a 60/40 ratio may be necessary. However, under no circumstances should you use a higher antifreeze-to-water ratio than 70/30. More is NOT better in this case!
The folks at Freedom Insurance Agency don’t want you or your family to get stranded on the road this winter season. Take a few minutes to re-check your vehicle’s winter preparedness.
We care about your safety!