The cold, long, and dark evenings of winter often seem bleak. It may seem like a herculean task to prepare your beloved SUVs and cars for the winter and to deal with sleet, ice, and snow-covered roads. However, if you prepare well in advance, winterizing your car need not be a daunting task. SUVs tend to be more stable vehicles during the winter, so if you’re considering a new vehicle purchase, bear this in mind.
How to winterize your vehicle
Preparing your vehicle for winter will save you the hassle of dealing with various issues which could otherwise crop up during the season. Let’s take a look at some important steps to consider:
- Check tire condition and pressure, and invest in winter tires for the season: Check tire pressure and depth of 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 winter tires for your vehicle to ensure better cornering ability and grip, especially in extreme winters. Winter tires provide better traction in extreme winter conditions as they are fitted with special compounds which do not harden in such temperatures.
- Ensure adequate oil and coolant levels, and adequate battery power: 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 of the vehicle. Your vehicle’s cooling or antifreeze levels are also important to 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. A battery test can keep your vehicle protected in the winter when you require increased battery power and efficiency for your vehicle to run smoothly.
- Assess the condition of lights and windscreen wipers: In the winters, the long hours of darkness and increased possibility of fog mean you need to ensure your vehicle’s rear and front lights are working well for adequate safety. Also important for visibility and safety is the optimal condition of your vehicle’s windscreen wipers and wiper fluid. Winter wipers are designed with special rubber to avoid the collection of ice on the blades. It is also a good idea to check the defroster of your vehicle’s rear windows to ensure optimal vision in the winter.
Winter vehicle kit essentials
If you are using your vehicle in the winter, it is important that you maintain a winter car essentials kit in your car at all times. This trunk organizer needs to have all the common tools and equipment to deal with an emergency like car breakdown and battery change. It is especially important to have this ready before a long car journey during the cold winter months.
The basic tool kit in your vehicle 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 keep some winter clothing in your trunk like a few pairs of warm jackets, winter hats, and snow boots. Some emergency snacks like energy bars and several bottles of water can make a big difference in case of a breakdown.
How to store your car in the winter
Efficiently storing your vehicle during the colder months can help avoid expensive repairs, come spring, and also ensure its longer life span. Let’s explore some important ways by which you can handle this.
- Ensure a full gas tank, oil change, and effective antifreeze levels: 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. Even if not due, an oil change 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. It is also safe to avoid mixing long-lasting coolants with regular ones owing to their unique lifespans.
- Thoroughly clean your car and garage: Give your winter vehicle a thorough wash, prior to the onset of the season. This includes spray washing the underneath of the vehicle. Leave it to air dry before waxing it for a good finish. You can opt for a chrome polish if you really love your car. It is imperative that you clean the vehicle 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 mousetraps in your garage. Ensure you plug up any air inlets in your vehicle, including your exhaust pipe, with steel wool. Regularly checking the underside of your car hood can ensure a pest-free environment.
- Invest in a quality vehicle cover and/or vehicle 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.