The cold, long, and dark evenings of winter often seem bleak. It may seem like a herculean task to winterize your beloved SUVs and cars for the winter in order to deal with sleet, ice, and snow-covered roads. However, if you plan well in advance, preparing your vehicle for the cold season need not be a daunting task. If you’re considering buying a new car ahead of winter, bear in mind that SUVs tend to be more stable vehicles in the chill and on frosty roads.
How to Winterize Your Car
Preparing your vehicle for winter will save you the hassle of dealing with various issues which could otherwise crop up during the season. Here’s how to winter proof your car with some simple steps:
- Ensure Your Tires Are Winter-Ready
Check tire pressure and the depth of your tire tread to make sure they can combat the slippery roads in winter. While it is possible to use all-season tires, it is ideal to buy winterized tires for your car to ensure better cornering ability and grip. Winter tires provide better traction in extreme cold as they are fitted with special compounds which do not harden in such temperatures.
- Check Oil and Coolant Levels and Battery Condition
Inadequate oil levels can cause severe engine issues and breakdowns, which can be disastrous, especially in the freezing winters. During the winter, thinner oil is thought to provide smoother running for the vehicle.
Your car’s coolant or antifreeze levels are also important to winterize your car and prevent engine breakdown. Frozen water can cause the engine pipe to split and leak, leading to decreased cooling levels. To reduce freezing, ensure you maintain an optimal antifreeze to water ratio. It’s also a good idea to test your car’s battery. This can keep your vehicle protected in the winter when you require increased battery power and efficiency for your vehicle to run smoothly.
- Assess Condition of Lights and Windscreen Wipers
Winterizing your car also means preparing for the long hours of darkness and increased possibility of fog. You need to ensure your vehicle’s rear and front lights are working well for adequate safety. Check that your windscreen wipers, wiper fluid, and rear window defroster are operating correctly for optimal visibility. Winter wipers are designed with special rubber to avoid the collection of ice on the blades. Running a final check on your equipment to make sure it’s good to go is how you properly winter-proof your car.
Essential Kit Items to Winterize Your Car
If you have to contend with long winters where you live or you’re about to embark on a long car journey in the cold, it’s important that you keep your car organized with a winter essentials kit in your car at all times. Fill a trunk organizer in the back of your car with all the common tools and equipment to deal with an emergency like car breakdown and battery change.
A basic tool kit to winterize your car should include sockets, pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, pressure gauge, duct tape, electric tape, hammer, rope, matches, flares, and scissors. A first-aid kit is also important to keep handy, as is extra antifreeze. A strong but non-bulky shovel with a large mouth can assist with getting stuck tires out of the snow.
A pair of top-quality jumper cables should also be a permanent part of your vehicle trunk kit. Look at investing in a minimum cable length of 12 feet. A strong LED flashlight with extra batteries can help with emergency tire changing.
Besides these tools, it is also essential to consider how to winter proof your car in case of delays or breakdowns during a journey. Keep some winter clothing like a few pairs of warm jackets, winter hats, and snow boots in a collapsible trunk container. Accessorize your carrier with a cooler or padded inserts to organize it better. This will let you comfortably store some emergency snacks like energy bars and bottles of water, which can make a big difference in case of a hitch.
How to Maintain Your Car in the Winter
Efficiently maintaining and winterizing your car during the colder months can help avoid expensive repairs come spring, and also ensure a longer life span for your vehicle. Here’s how to maintain your car to ensure it’s winter proof.
- Ensure a Full Gas Tank and Oil Change
A full tank reduces the build-up of moisture and rust, and can make it easy for you to run it regularly for a bit to keep it working well. Adding the recommended quantity of fuel stabilizer is also a good idea.
Winterize your car with an oil change, even if it’s not due. This helps avoid engine corrosion. Running the vehicle for a couple of minutes helps to circulate the newly added car fluids. An inefficient water-to-antifreeze ratio can lead to cracking of the vehicle’s cylinder heads. Try to avoid mixing long-lasting coolants with regular ones owing to their unique lifespans.
- Thoroughly Clean Your Car and Garage
Give your winterized car a thorough wash, prior to the onset of the cold season. This includes spray washing the underneath of the vehicle. Leave it to air dry before waxing it for a good finish. Add a chrome polish if you really love your car.
It is imperative that you clean your vehicle’s interiors as well before storing it for the winter. Food remnants can be an open invitation for mice and other pests to destroy your engine and vehicle interiors. It can also cause bad odors to build up. Set mouse traps in your garage. Ensure you plug up any air inlets in your car with steel wool to winterize it, including the exhaust pipe. Regularly checking the underside of your car hood can ensure a pest-free environment.
- Invest in a Quality Vehicle Cover and/or Lift
A custom-made cover in a non-plastic, breathable material can add extra protection to your vehicle, avoid moisture that can cause unwanted rust build-up, and ensure your car’s finish is scratch-free. A car lift can offer extra garage space and help in running and cleaning your car during the winter storage months.
Winterizing your car is all about giving it a good tune-up ahead of the season. Consider the weather conditions you have to contend with and think about all the ways they might affect your car. If you drive a convertible, for instance, you might have to spend additional time ensuring the hatch gears are lubricated and functioning correctly.
Browse through our blog for more tips on how to be prepped for road trips during the winter, summer, and otherwise. Explore meori products, including our trunk containers to keep organized during your journeys.