Trying to get your car, truck, or SUV ready for the cold, snowy days ahead? While Indiana winters can be beautiful, they can also cause drivers to worry about their vehicles on the road. But with some preparation and preventative maintenance, you can make sure you’re ready to safely hit the road all winter long.
Here are seven tips for winterizing your vehicle:
When your tires are in great shape, you can drive safely and get the traction you need to brake and accelerate in the snow and road salt. If your wheels are flat, cracked, or discolored, it’s time to replace them.
To check your tire’s tread, just grab a penny and put it into a groove between the treads, with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you see most or all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread is low — which means less traction in winter conditions. If this is the case for about 10 areas on all of your tires, it’s time to replace them for better traction.
You’ll also want to check your tire pressure often once the weather starts getting colder. That’s because every 10-degree drop in external temperature can lead to a one-pound loss in your tires’ air pressure. A sticker on your car’s door jam (as well as information in the owner’s manual) will give you the recommended air pressure your tires should have. When you keep your tires properly inflated and check for pressure drops, you’ll be much less likely to have a flat tire or get into an accident on a slippery road.
Your car’s manual is an excellent way to become more familiar with your vehicle and how it works. It can tell you how much to inflate your tires, what your engine’s oil weight should be, when to flush your engine’s system, what type of coolant to use, how to activate 4-wheel drive (4WD), and more.
Because you probably haven’t used 4WD in about a year (since last winter), it’s a smart idea to check the owner’s manual to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. For example, some vehicles need to be in park before you activate 4WD, while others should be in neutral. Your manual will explain exactly what you should do, which will help you prevent misuse or expensive damage to the system.
Taking care of your car’s cooling system starts with the right antifreeze, or coolant. This liquid absorbs engine heat and disperses that heat throughout your car’s radiator. It cools the engine to prevent overheating and damage, especially in the winter and summer, when your vehicle has to work harder to regulate its overall temperature. You’ll want to drain your cooling system and add new antifreeze at least once a year, before temperatures drop below freezing.
Your owner’s manual (or your local dealer) can tell you which coolant is best for your vehicle, as well as how much the engine needs. Most types are sold premixed with a 50/50 dilution of antifreeze to water. If that’s not the case for your coolant, you’ll have to mix and dilute it yourself with distilled water. With the right mixture in your radiator, you’ll prevent the liquid from freezing and keep your car running smoothly.
Another tip: Test your heater and defroster by turning them on and off before it gets too cold outside. You’ll want to make sure your heating system works when you need it most!
Besides checking your cooling and heating systems, you’ll want to take care of some other preventative maintenance before winter sets in. Whether you’re a DIY-er, or you’d rather bring your car into the shop, this will allow you to get your vehicle in the best possible condition for winter. You’ll have peace of mind while dashing through the snow that your car can handle the cold and help you (and any passengers) stay safe.
Here are a few preventative maintenance tasks for winterizing your vehicle:
To fully prepare for anything winter throws at you and your vehicle, you’ll want to pack an emergency kit. This will come in handy if you get stuck in a snowbank, have to make an emergency repair, or are in a long line of traffic on the highway and unsure when you can keep moving. Whether you buy a pre-assembled kit or put something together yourself, here’s what your emergency kit should include:
It’s also a great idea to keep your gas tank at least half full in the winter (and really any time of year). This will prevent moisture in the car’s gas line from freezing and make it easier to start your vehicle in the cold. Plus, you won’t have to worry about running out of gas!
When you’re winterizing your vehicle this year, consider a remote start to make your life easier. Leaving your warm bed on a cold winter morning is never fun, but a pre-warmed interior can make your commute a bit less chilly.
With a remote start, you can also start your car from inside the house to warm up the engine before driving. This gives the oil time to become thicker and lubricate the motor, making your engine run better now and in the long term.
Plus, a remote start lets you scrape your car quickly, as you’ll defrost most of the snow and ice from your windows, headlights, and brake lights before even setting foot outside. This will help you drive more safely, as your visibility won’t be impaired by snow falling from the windows or clouding your lights.
Right before winter is the perfect time to clean your car and keep it corrosion-free! Getting a professional interior detail will make your vehicle’s carpets sparkling clean again by removing stains and damage from salt, melting ice, and other debris. And before the temperatures dip too low, you can wash your car by following these easy steps:
Once you’ve thoroughly washed your car, consider a rustproofing service for winterizing your vehicle. This involves spraying a drip-free protective wax on the areas of your car’s exterior that are likely to corrode (rust) from melting snow — especially the fenders, hood, and undercarriage. Rustproofing will help you protect your car from ice and road salt, avoid costly repairs and safety hazards, and keep your vehicle looking like new all winter long.
By following these tips for winterizing your vehicle, you’ll be well on your way to driving safely no matter what winter brings!
If you’re interested in getting a remote start, hand wash, and/or rustproofing service for your car, an auto detailing expert can help you find what you need to drive in comfort, safety, and style this winter.
Premier’s mission is to create happiness through professional detailing, and our purpose is to exhibit a philosophy of servanthood! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or visit our website. Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well!