How to make your vehicle winter ready
There are some basics that every vehicle owner needs to think of before driving in sub-zero temperatures, and depending on your personal driving habits you may need to do some extra preparation.
Get a winter check up
At Eric’s Auto we check for bad hoses, belts, leaking water pumps and spark plug wires that can leave you stranded in the winter. It’s better than spending the same amount of money after you’ve been sitting in your stalled car for three hours waiting for CAA. We also check your cooling system, windshield wipers, all exterior lights, horn, all fluid levels, tire condition and pressure, brakes, suspension, battery, charging system, and exhaust.
Battery and charging system
Even if you only have short commutes and drive primarily in the city, making sure your car will start on a cold morning is a must. Make sure your battery and charging system are performing well. Your mechanic can check your battery, charging system, and belts. A dead battery can leave you stranded simply because it’s old and not holding a charge, or because your charging system isn’t working well, and the battery isn’t getting charged properly.
Did you know that tire pressure drops by about one pound per ten degrees of temperature? If the last time you checked your tire pressure was in the summer, your tires may be dangerously low and will jeopardize your car’s handling.
Keep your gas tank close to full
In the summer, you can take a chance and run down to fumes. But in the winter, if you do get stuck or stranded, the engine will be your only source of heat. And you don’t want to have to worry about conserving fuel and saving the planet right at that moment…you want to stay warm. You can run the engine indefinitely at idle to stay warm-or as long as you have gas. No harm will be done to the engine.
Keep your windshield washer reservoir full
On a snowy or messy day, you can use a liter or more of windshield washer fluid trying to keep your windshield clear. It’s a good idea to keep an extra container of fluid in the trunk in case you run out. And make sure you get the good stuff – stay away from the already-half-frozen stuff outside your local gas station! Even though it may say “Good to Minus 30,” some of these cheap fluids freeze around zero degrees!
Check to see if your vehicle already has a pre-installed block heater, or consider adding a block heater to your engine. It’s a small electric engine heater that you plug in at home using a regular 120 volt AC plug, usually at night. For less than a few hundred dollars, you can be virtually guaranteed that your car will start, even on the coldest mornings. A benefit of this is that you’ll have instant heat in the morning.
Winter Emergency Kit
Make sure you have some basic supplies in your car in case you do get stuck. Invest in a high quality snowbrush and an ice scraper. It’s good to have a shovel and a bag of sand to help with traction, and extra windshield washer fluid. A blanket is a good idea – just in case. If you have any winter clothes you don’t wear anymore, especially an old pair of boots, throw them in the trunk, too.
Take your cell phone with you when you head out in winter weather. We don’t have to remind you to not use it while driving, but if you get stuck or stranded, you can safely call for assistance.
If you do any driving in remote or rural areas, keep a couple of candles and a lighter, some snacks and bottled water in your vehicle. A chocolate bar will keep your energy level up and water will keep you hydrated. It will also keep your spirits up, especially if you have a hike ahead of you!