WINTER CAR MAINTENANCE TIPS

By Justin Stoltzfus
Prepare Your Car For Winter
Winter means slowing down for ice and slush, scraping off the car in the morning, and digging your vehicle out of a snowbank. It's work, but there are some things you can do now to make your job easier through the winter months. These winter car maintenance tips will help keep you and your car in better condition as temperatures drop and snowy, icy weather makes getting from point A to point B more difficult.

  • Take a Look at Your Oil. In addition to making sure you have oil in your car, winter maintenance involves making sure your engine is ready for cold. Experts suggest getting a grade of oil marked with a "W" indicating it's effectiveness in colder weather. It's also a good time to have a look at whether there is sludge buildup in your engine. When condensation contaminates oil, cold weather means that the car may not burn off the moisture during short trips, which can increase the risk of oil blockage.
  • Wipers and De-Icer. Another major problem in winter months is visibility. Yes, snow can blow across the windshield, causing a white out, but ice can also clump up on wipers and obscure your view which can be dangerous. Ensure your wipers are in good condition and add de-icer wiper fluid which will help prevent ice buildup.
  • Assess Tires. Your tires are going to need proper tread to handle the slush and icy, wet roads of winter. Ask a professional about whether tire changes will help you drive more safely in winter weather, and confirm your state's regulations on tire chains or tire studs. Check your tire pressure as well since dramatic shifts in temperature can affect tire pressure. General tire maintenance can help ensure that your tires are in—and stay in—good shape.
  • Check Your Vents. This tip has more to do with the health of drivers and passengers, but can also help you identify some problems with your car. Before it gets too cold, turn on your heater and run it for a while. Identify if there are any issues with the heating system, and keep a look out for peculiar smells or hot air blasts that can be caused by things like animal infestations. If you note one of these issues, take your car to a professional and have the problem fixed before winter starts.
Doing these simple pre-winter maintenance tasks will mean less hassle and headache in winter storms—and better safety on the road.


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