Five Tips to Winterize Your Car

Well it’s November, and Old Man Winter’s just around the corner. That means you need to prepare your car for frigid early-morning starts and chilly commutes. Here are FIVE tips for prepping your vehicle for the cold winter months ahead. Brrrr!

Inspect Your Car Battery
Both extreme heat and cold can take a toll on your car’s battery life. That’s why it’s important to maintain the battery. Inspect your battery for any corrosion and check the purchase date. If you bought your battery more than four years ago, chances are you could be due for a new one soon.How do you know if your battery’s dying a slow death? Listen for your car to start slowly and sound like it’s struggling to get the engine cranked. A friend of mine’s Subaru was starting up slowly a few weeks back, and I warned her that it could be her battery. She texted me a few days later on her way to buy a new one!

Change the Oil and Check Fluids
Many factors can affect your car’s oil viscosity, and one of them is colder temps. The chillier the weather, the thicker your engine oil can become. So it’s smart to make an adjustment for the winter by switching to a more fluid lubricant. Also, make sure to check your windshield wiper fluid and coolant levels. You’ll want to make sure you have a mixture that won’t freeze.Take a peek in your owner’s manual to see what motor oil your vehicle manufacturer recommends. Then check out this excellent resource for which oil to buy during the months of November through March.

Adjust Tire Pressure – Science 101
Most of us learned this in sixth grade, but no one remembers that cold air contracts when it comes to the four rubber propellers on their cars. In the summertime, it’s good to let out a little air in your tires because warm air expands.When the Fahrenheit drops below 45 degrees, it’s a good idea to check your tire pressure levels. You’ll likely discover that they’re running a little low. Pump them up to the carmaker’s recommended level and you’ll also save a few dollars in gas! (proper air pressure = better fuel economy)

Clean and Wax Your Vehicle
Regularly detailing one’s car isn’t just for the car obsessed like me. Think of it as preventative care for winter’s largest foe…road salt.Give your car a thorough cleaning inside and out. And if you get some pesky chemicals on the undercarriage this winter, be sure to rinse them off as soon as possible in order to prevent permanent damage like rust.Prepare an

Emergency Roadside Kit
None of us like to think of being stranded alone in a blizzard. And after living through DC’s strange arctic spell in early 2010, I now actually believe I need to be prepared.Put together an emergency kit that you store in your car’s trunk. Here’s a list to help you get started:

  • A few bags of road salt or kitten litter in case your wheels get stuck. These also provide extra weight and added traction to RWD vehicles.
  • Warm winter accessories – gloves, hats, scarves, hand warmers, and boots
  • A small supply of food and water – I like to keep extra Clif bars in the console.
  • Flashlight
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • First-aid Kit

While these are only a few tips that are helpful in preparing your car for a blast of cold, I hope that you’ve found these winterizing tips informative.Here’s to a snowy, yet safe, winter season!

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Suzie at 4:14 PM

    Great tips! Another good idea for the laziest among us: renew your AAA membership.