Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance November 28, 2012

The Importance of Getting Vehicles Winterized

Whether you are commuting to work or transporting the kids to and from school and after-school activities, you want to be sure your vehicle is mechanically sound now that colder temperatures arrived.

Here are tips to ensure your vehicle is ready to brave the cold:

1. Windshield Care: You never want to run out of windshield washer fluid during the winter months, so periodically check the washer fluid reservoir. Apply a rain repellant, like Aquapel or RainX to windshields; this will make the water bead on the windshield so that ice and snow do not stick and visibility is improved. Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition —they usually last six months before they need to be replaced.

2. Check the Heating System: Be sure the heater, defroster and rear defroster will keep the windshield and windows clear and the interior of the car warm.

3. Battery Care: Extreme temperatures are one of the biggest factors in determining the average life span of a battery and how well it functions. Conduct regular maintenance to keep corrosion under control. Use baking soda and distilled water, not tap water, as it reduces the battery’s potential. With an old toothbrush, remove corrosion and build-up from the battery posts and cables. Finally, make sure cables are tightly fastened so that they do not move. Test the battery every time a vehicle is brought in for service, approximately every 7,500 miles.

4. Tire Tread and Compound Care: Vehicles in the DC metro area should be equipped with all-season tires with plenty of tread. The condition of your car’s tires is critical during the winter season; braking, acceleration and handling are all impacted while driving on slippery roads.

5. Check Tire Pressure: Tire traction is compromised in wet or snowy conditions, so it is critical to have properly inflated tires. Just remember that with colder temperatures, the air pressure in a cold tire will drop.

6. Check the Anti-freeze/Coolant: The cooling system should be filled with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water; this prevents freezing and boiling over. Keep the cooling system operating at peak performance by following the vehicle’s recommendation for changing the antifreeze. Cooling systems can be pressure tested; these testers are available at automotive stores and most automotive maintenance providers will pressure test for a minimal fee.

7. Prepare an Emergency Kit. It’s always best to be prepared for an emergency. Consider the following items for a winter emergency kit:

  • A spare tire
  • Extra windshield washer fluid and paper towels
  • Tire-changing equipment
  • A bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.
  • A flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit
  • Jumper cables, a tool kit and tire chains.
  • Blanket and extra warm clothes (scarves, gloves, hats, boots)
  • Contact information of people to be called in case of an emergency
  • A snow brush with an aggressive ice scraper and snow shovel.
  • Protein-rich, non-perishable foods (protein/granola bars, nuts, raisins), and water.

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