Ice, rain, snow and freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your car. To keep your family safe on the slippery roads this winter, it's important to take a few simple winterization steps.
Proper maintenance can also go a long way in helping preserve the investment in your vehicle. Follow these five tips to keep your vehicle in top shape throughout the winter weather:
1. Switch engine oil: Oil lubricates the engine so it can function properly, but not all automobile oil is the same. If you live in a cold climate, consider switching to a thinner, less viscous oil. For example, a 10W-30 might be ideal for hot summer weather, but a thicker 5W-30 is better for when temperatures dip below freezing. Ask your auto mechanic what is recommended and refer to the manufacturer's manual for more insight.
2. Maintain a car wash routine: Due to the presence of ice, salt and sand on the roads, washing your vehicle in the winter is even more important than the summer. Getting a car wash and a fresh coat of wax before the temperature begins to drop can be your first line of defense against winter elements. Vehicular corrosion occurs most quickly when the temperature rises and falls below freezing. The International Carwash Association recommends finding a car wash that is part of the WaterSavers program. There are more than 1,500 environmentally friendly car washes worldwide enrolled in the program that meet water quality and usage standards. These car washes use 40 gallons (151.5 liters) or less of fresh water per car. Find a participating car wash near you by visiting www.washwithwatersavers.com.
3. Check the battery: Cold weather can take a toll on your car’s battery. Before you get stranded, give your battery a once-over to make sure it's in tip-top shape. Check the cables, terminals and fluid and look for anything abnormal. Some battery retailers will conduct a complementary car battery assessment if you'd prefer an expert analysis.
4. Update engine coolant: Just because it's chilly doesn't mean your engine can't overheat. To protect your engine against corrosion and to help ensure it doesn't overheat, ask your car technician to change to a coolant with ethylene glycol which has antifreeze properties. While replacing coolants, ask the technician to make sure all fluids are topped off, including window washer solution.
5. Get a grip on tire safety: If you live in an area where winter means driving in snow and ice, it's critical to check your tires to keep you and your passengers safe. Each tire should have an adequate amount of tread to properly grip the road. You can easily see if new tires are needed with the penny test — hold a penny head down in the center tread. If you see the top of Lincoln's head, you have less than 2/32-inch tread and it's time for new tires. Also be sure to your tires are properly inflated to ensure optimum handling, safety, and fuel efficiency.
Taking the time to properly winterize your car not only ensures the comfort and safety of you and your family but also helps you maintain the value of your car for many winters to come.
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