Not everyone will see snow and ice this winter, but it still pays to be prepared. Temperatures will be lower, there will be less daylight and many of us will see more precipitation. To the south, this will be rain, but don’t forget that high ground can still see snow and ice. And fog can take a driver by surprise almost anywhere. A good auto parts store or repair shop, like those on DexKnows, can help, but you might also want to take on-board these five winter car care tips.
Tip 1: Check Your Tires
Four small patches of rubber are all that keeps your car pointing in the right direction. Tread is essential to clear away water and snow, so make sure you have at least the “Lincoln’s head” of depth, though more is better. Check the pressure, too, because a 20-degree change in outside temperature — like from a warm day to a cool night — can cause a drop of 1 to 2 pounds in tire pressure. Tires are best checked before the vehicle is driven, so if you don’t have a pressure gauge, pick one up at the auto parts store.
Tip 2: Battery Condition
Cold-starting is hard on a battery. Low temperatures reduce the power it can deliver, making it difficult to turn over an engine on a bitter January morning. But don’t start feeling smug if you live in warmer climes. Batteries hate heat, too, and one forced to endure southwestern desert temperatures will have a shorter life than one used in Minnesota. So here’s the battery tip: If yours is more than a couple of years old, have a repair shop check it out and, if necessary, get it replaced.
Tip 3: Get the Right Viscosity Oil
Oil flows much better when warm, but you don’t want it getting too thin. On the other hand, you don’t want it to be too thick in cold temperatures because that will draw even more battery power to start the engine. So next time you pop in to the dealership or an oil change center, ask what grade of oil is recommended for the coming season.
Tip 4: See and Be Seen
Make sure all your bulbs are working and your headlights are clean. Headlights tend to cloud over after five or six years, and that reduces light output. The good news is, this can be reversed. Pick up a restoration kit, like those made by Sylvania, at the auto parts store; they’re easy to use and you’ll notice the difference. And while you’re there, grab some new wiper blades, too. Or, if you don’t want to fit them yourself, call in to the dealership or auto repair shop and ask them to put some new blades on your ride.
Tip 5: A Little TLC
Summer sun is tough on a car’s paint: The UV rays that help us tan will fade strong colors and degrade the clearcoat, so give your car a good wash and wax. (Good parts stores sell everything you need.) And while you’re at it, clear any debris from the base of the windshield and the sunroof gutters. It wouldn’t hurt to check that the drain holes at the bottom of the doors are free, too. This ensures that rain runs off, rather than pooling and making a good place for rust to start.
Even if there’s no snow or ice in your winter forecast, it pays to be prepared. Find a parts store or auto repair shop on DexKnows and have the staff there ready your car for winter.