Important Winter Car Care Tips
Winter weather is upon us, but that doesn’t mean your vehicle has to suffer. With regular maintenance checks, your car can stay on track to power through winter safely. Here are the most important car components to monitor before and during the winter:
Your tires play a significant role in how well (or not) your car moves in the winter. That includes your ability to accelerate and brake in icy or wet conditions.
If you live in an area prone to frigid temperatures, snow, and ice, you should consider putting a set of winter tires on your vehicle before winter weather arrives. Keeping your current tires? Make sure they have plenty of tread for ample traction. Check your tire pressure frequently, because cold temperatures can quickly bring it down and affect your traction.
You’ve probably attempted to start your car in frigid temperatures before only to be met with a slow-to-start groan from a weakened battery. Cold weather can cause your battery to lose its strength and even die if it was weak enough to begin with.
To prevent this, you can have your battery power checked by most auto repair shops or auto supply stores for free. They can tell you if your battery is ready for a replacement or if it still has some life left.
During the winter, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your battery’s longevity:
- Keep it clean. Specifically, look for a powdery material near its terminals, which indicates corrosion. You can wipe it down with a clean cloth and water. This step ensures your battery gets maximum power.
- Give it a minute to get moving. After you start your car, avoid turning on the heat, radio, lights, and anything else that uses up power. Allow your vehicle a minute or two to run, and the battery to get some energy before starting everything else.
- If possible, park in a garage. The warmer you can keep your vehicle, the better your battery should work. If you must park outside, you can purchase a blanket heater for your battery to keep its core at a more comfortable temperature for efficient starting.
It’s best practice to get into a year-round routine of checking your fluids, like wiper fluid, power steering fluid, oil, and radiator fluid. It’s especially crucial to keep an eye on these during the winter when these liquids can become thicker and less efficient – or even freeze – due to colder temperatures. Check them at least weekly and top them off as needed.
If your oil is thicker than usual, you might need an oil change. Doing so before winter can keep your oil in the best shape to handle winter weather.
Also, ask your mechanic if your coolant is ready for winter. In some areas, you may need to adjust your antifreeze-to-water ratio to keep everything moving properly through the engine and prevent freezing that could cause serious damage.
Snow, ice, and salt can leach to your car’s exterior and damage its paint. Try to wash your car as quickly as possible after a snow or ice storm to remove salt and ice that kicks up onto your vehicle during winter drives. If you use a drive-through car wash, be sure to check the underside of the vehicle and around the wheels and tires. These areas are notorious for harboring frozen mounds of crud.
It’s also a good idea to check your windshield wipers regularly. An icy windshield can render them useless after a few swipes. Try to remember to use a de-icer spray or an ice scraper to remove them from your windshield if they’re stuck. You can also keep your wipers upright overnight to prevent them from sticking.
Your safety while driving in the winter is more important than your vehicle’s well-being. Winter driving comes with many what-ifs, for which you can never be too prepared. Consider these safety tips:
- Keep an emergency kit on hand, complete with flares, a flashlight, jumper cables, blankets, and a phone charger. The kit can come in handy if you’re in an accident or your car malfunctions on the road.
- Always have at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle, even if you’re only going a short distance. With winter’s unpredictability, it gives you a little extra peace of mind.
- Keep de-icer, ice salt, and a shovel in your car, if possible. If you do get stuck, these items can help you start moving again.
- Check your spare. If you have winter tires, it’s best to have a matching spare, but any spare is better than none.
The above tips can keep you and your vehicle ready to hit the road this winter. If you’re ready to look for a new or used car before winter hits, you can check out our selection at Paul Sherry Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM. We have something for everyone, from brand-new RAM trucks to Certified Pre-Owned SUVs that are perfect for winter driving.