If you've always lived in a part of the country where winter snowfall is unheard of, you may be a bit nervous about weathering your first winter after moving to a colder area. Even if you've been driving for decades, you likely had no reason to learn about vehicle winterization while living in a warm climate. However, this process can be crucial to maintaining your vehicle in good condition and keeping you safe all winter long. Read on to learn more about what you should do to prepare your vehicle for winter, as well as some repairs you may need to make before the first snowfall.
How can you winterize your vehicle?
The term "winterizing" refers to preparing your vehicle for the colder temperatures and potentially treacherous road conditions that come along with the season. While the weather is still cool, you'll want to have your fluids checked to ensure your levels of coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid are adequate and that these fluids are clear, without debris that could catch in your engine and present problems down the line. You may want to switch to a lower-viscosity oil for your winter oil changes if you're planning on keeping your vehicle outside.
You'll also want to have your battery tested (and replaced if necessary). Being stranded with a vehicle that won't start is unpleasant at any time of year, but could pose additional dangers during winter -- especially if you find yourself without a cell phone and in an area where there are few open stores or friendly homeowners available to help.
Finally, you'll want to check the tread on your tires. If this tread is growing thin, your traction may suffer -- and for vehicles without four-wheel drive capabilities, keeping traction on at least two tires is key to maintaining control when driving in snowy, slick, or icy conditions. Replacing worn or bulging tires can prevent you from suffering a debilitating blowout on the highway.
What vehicle repairs should you make before winter weather hits?
Autumn and early winter are the prime times to make certain repairs that may have been nagging at you over the summer. If you've noticed your engine idling roughly (or even dying during extended idle times, like in a fast-food drive thru), you'll want to have this checked out before cold weather worsens the problem. In some cases, it could be as simple a fix as adjusting the timing of your idle.
Another repair that is crucial before winter involves your exhaust system. If you've been living with small holes in your exhaust or muffler, you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if this exhaust ends up being vented into your vehicle's cabin. For those who routinely warm up their vehicles in an enclosed garage, this practice could be deadly. Fortunately, most exhaust issues can be quickly and inexpensively repaired by replacing a portion of the exhaust tubing or welding together small holes. To winterize your vehicle, consult with a mechanic at a business like H & S Tire & Auto Center.