Is Your Car Ready for Winter Driving?

Posted On 10/08/2009 14:44:06 by Motorcarservice
October is National Car Care Month
Get your car ready for winter driving

Car problems in the winter are no fun, here are some good tips to help get your car ready for the winter driving season, and lessen your chance of being inconvenienced by car problems.  You know they creep up at the worst times usually!

Oil: Make sure you change your oil every 3,000 miles.  Newer engines are prone to sludge problems, and may require the use of synthetic oils.  Old dirty oil will not provide proper lubrication, causing premature engine wear.  It will also put extra stress on the battery and starter.  Use the proper weight oil specified by your car manufacturer.

Antifreeze/Coolant:  Make sure you check the quality and protection level of your coolant.  You should use a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to provide a freeze point protection level around -35 degrees.  If your coolant is old and dirty looking, have your coolant system flushed and refilled with new antifreeze.  This is also a perfect time to check the condition of the belts and hoses.

Power Steering:  Check fluid level, it should be up to the full mark and look pretty clean.

Door Locks and Hinges:  Spray some lubricant, like WD40 in all your locks to remove moisture and help keep them from freezing.  Wouldn't hurt to do this once a week in the winter.  While your at it, spray some on the door, hood and trunk hinges once in a while.

Brake fluid:  This is probably the most neglected fluid in your car.  Did you know most manufactures recommend flushing the complete brake fluid system every 2 years?  Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture.  Moisture in your brake system will cause pitting in the metal brake components, and cause the steel lines to rust, and cost you more in repairs.  Moisture in the brake fluid can cause loss of braking in an emergency stop.

Battery and Charging system:  Nothing is worse than getting up in the morning, getting ready to head out, and click, click, click.  A dead battery and the car wont start.  Have your mechanic test the charging system and load test your battery.  This is a relatively easy procedure and will let you know the condition of your battery and alternator.

Heater and A/C system:  Run test your heater, and switch it to the different positions.  Does the air blow out at your feet when in that position?  Will it blow out in the windshield defrosters when in that position?  The A/C system is not needed to cool the car, but it does dry out the air before its heated to make the defroster work way faster.

Lights:  It is already getting dark sooner, and winter visibility is usually decreased.  Make sure you can see and be seen.  Check out your lights, make sure all the bulbs work well.  Have your headlights checked with a headlight aiming machine if you think yours may be a bit out of alignment.  This will help give you the best view of the road ahead and prevent blinding oncoming cars

Wipers:  Such a simple thing, but we tend to forget about them until we need them.  Streaking wiper blades are a safety hazard and are quite annoying. Check the condition of the blades, clean them off with some white vinegar or window cleaner.  If the streak, are tearing, or over a year old, do yourself a favor and replace them with good quality wiper blades.  Cheap Blades don't last.  Another good tip.  When you park your car, turn off the wipers and let them park before you shut off the car.  On freezing mornings, lift the wiper blades up and make sure they are not stuck to the windshield before you drive away.  Turning them on stuck to the windshield will break the wiper system or tear the blades.

Tires: Check your tires good before winter.  Look at the inside edges that are harder to see.  Check the wear bars to see how deep the tread is.  You need deeper tread in the winter than you do in the summer.  If the tires tread depth is too low, you will have poor winter traction pulling out, and stopping distance will be increased.  Low tread depth will also allow tires to hydroplane much faster, causing loss of steering and possibly loss of control of your vehicle.  Check your tire pressures and set them to proper inflation levels for your car.  Most premature tire wear we see in the shop is due to under inflation

Transmission: If you have an automatic transmission, check the fluid level as per manufacturer's procedure.  Some cars do not have a transmission dip stick, and require a service technician to do this for you.  Look at the fluid and smell it, if it does not look kind of cherry red, and is dark, you are due for a change.  Smell the fluid, does it smell burnt?  If it does, you are due to have it changed.  Check to make sure you use the proper fluid, as some cars require a special Synthetic ATF fluid
If you have a manual transmission, have the gear oil level checked and topped up as needed.
Your transmission will work much harder on slippery roads, and transmission failures are quite expensive to repair.

Engine:  Check your maintenance schedule in your car manual.  Are you due for a new fuel filter?  Air filter?  Spark Plugs, Timing belt?  etc. If you neglect these things, it will cost you more in the long run. When you start your car, let it idle for a few minutes so the oil can circulate through the engine to properly lubricate it before driving away Preventive maintenance is always preferred to being towed in for problems.

Be Prepared:  Keep an emergency kit in your trunk.  Some handy items include, A fold up snow shovel, a bag of salt or ice melt, gloves, a hat, some blankets, an ice scraper, jumper cables, cell phone, Flash Light, Emergency flares, and a first aid kit.  Some energy snacks and bottled water to snack on so you dont get dehydrated or too hungry.  A lighter in your pocket to heat your key in case the door locks are frozen is a good idea too.  If you need to run the engine, make sure the exhaust is not blocked at your tailpipe, and keep a window or two cracked open for fresh air to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you need any help with you car, or have any questions, feel free to give us a ring.  We have been providing quality auto service since 1966.

Paul's Motor Car Service
2600 Library Road, Rte.88
Pittsburgh, PA 15234

Tags: Car Winter Driving Car Care Month Tips

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