Keep Your Vehicle Chillin’ Rather Than Illin’: Winter Maintenance Tips That Increase Safety and Value
With the sun shining and the air conditioning cranked to the max, it may be hard to imagine how you or your vehicle will feel when it is below freezing. As the seasons change, however, it is time to think about getting ready for rain, snow, and ice because safety on the road becomes even more critical during the winter months. There are also proactive measures that you can take now that will save money while increasing the vehicle’s reliability and value no matter what Mother Nature unleashes.
Reviewing Maintenance Records
If you have not already recorded oil changes, tires, or other vehicle work that was completed during the spring and summer, now is a good time to get your log updated. This will enable you to reflect on the vehicle’s performance over the last few months. You should also review the previous winter’s records to see how the vehicle fared.
Having organized and accurate maintenance records does not just earn you a gold star; it provides the documentation you need to procure a higher sales price when you trade it in or find a private buyer. And even when you still own the vehicle, this record will provide an easy checklist to consult when the weather changes.
If your record keeping leaves a lot to be desired, there are services that you might consider using that provide these helpful reminders and maintain a real-time log on each of your vehicles, which can help you get ready for the winter.
Tires are one of the most important places to check on your vehicle in preparation for winter because they will be coming into contact with all sorts of hazardous road conditions. Here are some suggestions:
- Make sure they are in shape or replace them with a set of special winterized tires.
- Check your vehicle’s alignment, especially if you have added a new set of tires or changed out a couple of them.
- Ensure that the tires have the proper air pressure because this is what will provide you with good handling and traction control when it is most needed. It is critical that this pressure gets checked because the colder weather can cause contraction of the air within the tires, which can drastically alter the pressure without you even realizing it. Don’t sacrifice tire performance and your safety on the road!
- You may need to consult your owner’s manual to guarantee that you have the right tires and pressure for winter driving conditions. Select a tire that has a tread that can hug and hold the road beneath the vehicle no matter what the conditions.
- This is a good time to check that your snow chains are in good working order and within reach so you will not be stuck somewhere in the snow without them.
In terms of safety, it is also important to replace the wiper blades and top up the cold-weather wiper fluid, so that you can keep your windshield free of debris and other things that might inhibit your view while driving. Also remember to test and replace interior and exterior bulbs. Lights are essential when visibility is reduced during blinding rain and snow storms.
Looks Count Too!
Wet weather, snow, salt from the roads, and mud can harm your vehicle’s beautiful paint and, even worse, begin corroding its undercarriage. Here are a few suggestions to prep the exterior of your vehicle:
- Start with a good detailing job on the interior and exterior during the autumn months.
- Protect the vehicle’s exterior with a special wax to minimize the effects brought on by harsh conditions.
- Use a heavy-duty window cleaner to remove all the dust and debris from the summer road trips.
- Complete the process with a paint sealant that goes over the wax coat as an extra layer of defense.
Despite the bad weather, your vehicle will still want to shine and you want to make sure that you do not have to shell out on a new paint job in a few years.
After being run under the hottest conditions, your vehicle must shift gears so that performs well under some of the coldest ones. Your car will need to work harder to get started and maintain optimum performance when temperatures plummet below freezing. There are a number of check-ups to be done under the hood:
- Check your battery and charging system, which will be strained once the cold weather starts.
- Switch to a low-viscosity oil or synthetic oil because these oils can handle the severe cold and boost your vehicle’s ability to still get revved up quickly. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Examine all filters and hoses to make sure there are no leaks or cracks that will inhibit the vehicle.
- Consider replacing antifreeze, which must be done every two years or 30,000 miles, because this will also affect vehicle performance.
Unique Winter Challenges
Winter means unique challenges, so you can plan well for these situations:
- Make sure your care heater and defrosting system are working. Look over the vehicle’s thermostat and coolant level to make sure that the engine will be able to warm up properly. You may think that the coolant level is only important in the summer, but it can actually inhibit the performance of your heater.
- There are times when you might get stuck so it is important to have your vehicle stocked with warm blankets, flares, gloves, a shovel, a de-icer, a crank radio, snacks, and first aid kit.
Take Care of Your Vehicle and It Will Return the Favor
While there are specific requirements that your unique vehicle may have, the tips mentioned in this article provide an overview of some of the most important maintenance actions to take in the winter months. Taking care of your vehicle now means that it will return the favor by getting you home in the next rain storm or snow flurry. Being careful and proactive about the maintenance of your vehicle will ease your mind as you and your family can safely navigate the harsh weather.