It’s getting colder out! Winter will soon be here, and you’re probably ready to bust out your favorite coat and make some nice hot coffee. But did you know your car needs some TLC to be ready for colder weather too? As colder weather approaches, it’s time to winterize your car.
Winterizing is the process of Inspecting and replacing parts and fluids to make sure your vehicle can handle the harsher weather. It is best to get this done in the fall, just before temperatures really start to fall, but it can be done at any point in the cold months. Listed below are some of the things that are done to winterize a car.
- Inspect the Battery.
Batteries don’t like cold, and things like low charge and corroded terminals only exacerbate the situation. Usually a quick clean of the battery is all that is necessary, but sometimes a battery needs to be recharged or replaced.
- Inspect the Oil.
Oil is the lifeblood of your car. While in extreme temperatures it may be necessary to switch to less-thick oil, it usually isn’t necessary in the fairly tame Carolina Piedmont winters. However, if your oil is old (around 5 months or older) it may warrant a change, and switching to synthetic isn’t a bad choice either.
- Inspect the Coolant.
Coolant is possibly the most important piece in this equation. Coolant (sometimes called antifreeze) should be inspected to assure that there is not water or grime in the system. While water can freeze at 32°F, coolant cannot. If your vehicle is using water instead of coolant, it is crucial it be replaced. Some coolants are designed for cold weather, but it may not be necessary to switch from regular coolant due to the fact that the Carolina Piedmont rarely goes below 20°F, but it may be useful for those who commute to the Appalachian Mountains.
- Inspect the Washer Fluid.
Washer Fluid is a great tool to help defrost a windshield. While most washer fluids are predesigned to not freeze at 32°F, some can and it is necessary to replace these fluids with cold-resistant ones. This is another example of a place where water won’t cut it as it freezes. It is worth noting that mixing coolant into the washer fluid is not recommended, as coolant can corrode paint and is dangerous to the natural wildlife as well as pets.
- Inspect tires.
Are your tires old? Is the tread at or below 2/32”? Is the wear uneven? If so, you should heavily consider replacing them. Tires with bad tread do poorly on black ice, which is common in this region of North Carolina. For the Carolina Piedmont snow tires and chains aren’t necessary, as the snowfall is usually less than an inch and only happens a few times a year. ALWAYS MAKE SURE TIRES ARE INFLATED PROPERLY FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE TRACTION IN COLD WEATHER!!!
- Pack an Emergency Kit.
Though this one is designed for cities with extreme cold and heavy snowfall, it’s still a great idea. Winter emergency kits usually have a flashlight, an ice scraper, a blanket, a warning/S.O.S light and non-perishable food.
- Inspect the Belts and Hoses.
Belts and hoses are notorious for snapping in cold weather. These should be inspected and replaced if they show signs of cracking or age.