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Five MORE tips to winterize your car

Back in 2010, we put together five tips to winterize your car. That post, and our advice on how NOT to de-ice your windshield have been some of our most popular winter-themed posts. Today, we bring you some additional tips our friends at Ford shared with us.

I’m a firm believer in preventative maintenance. Taking care of your vehicle – inside and out – now can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars down the road. Ford agrees. These tips may be similar to our original five, but Ford has included the cost comparison of now and later for some extra incentive.

Here are 5 MORE tips to winterize your car:

1.  Check your windshield wipers and washer fluid

Windshield wipers should be replaced every six months for a vehicle kept mostly outdoors. The elements – sun, heat, cold, ice – cause the rubber to wear down. The last thing you want to happen is for the rubber to break off and metal wiper frame to scratch your windshield. Also check to make sure your washer fluid has antifreeze in it so you can use it while driving in inclement weather to keep your view crystal clear.

Cost now:   About $20.00 for each replacement wiper
Cost later:  $440 to replace your scratched windshield<

2.  Check and replace your battery if needed

Take a closer look at the battery cables and clamps for fraying and corrosion. If you spot a white, powdery substance around the clamps that means you’ve got corrosion from battery acid. That’s OK though – just carefully clean it off with baking soda, water and a toothbrush.

Cost now:   About $29.95 to clean cables and test battery
Cost later:  $380 for a tow and battery replacement from a dead battery

3.  Consider a routine coolant flush and fill

Flushing the radiator in your vehicle gets rid of contaminants and rust, helping to prevent corrosion. The heating system works off the same coolant that circulates through your car’s engine. Cleaning out this system could help prevent your vehicle from overheating, one of the most common causes of breakdowns.

Cost now:   Approximately $112.00
Cost later:  $5,000 for a new engine if the engine block freezes

4.  Examine your tires and monitor tire pressure

Always do a quick walk-around before heading out in your vehicle in inclement weather. Make sure there aren’t any tires that have largely deflated from a sudden temperature drop. If so, then head to the nearest gas station and pump up tires to the appropriate PSI level, which you can find in your car’s manual – or sometimes inside the driver’s side door jam. Having the right tire pressure levels ensures maximum performance from your wheels. It saves on gas, too!

Cost now:   Four quarters to fill your tires
Cost later:  Hundreds of dollars a year in wasted gas due to tire pressure imbalance

5.  Keep an emergency kit inside your car

We recently talked about a survey CarMax conducted that showed nearly 67% of Americans do not have a winter emergency kit in their car. Go here to see a full list of what to pack in your car’s emergency kit.

Cost now:   Anywhere from $25-$50, depending on what items you already have
Cost later:  Let’s just say rescue and emergency medical care are a lot more expensive (and traumatic!)

What other winterizing tips do you have? Share them in the comments below!

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Melanie Batenchuk

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