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Automotive Care — Winterizing Your Car for Cold Weather Driving

Jan 6, 2017

Winter is considered the harshest season of the year. It is a season that is not only hard on humans but also on vehicles.It’s not too late to prepare for winter driving. Let’s explore some tips for winterizing your car for cold weather driving.

Battery Care and Cold Weather

Automotive batteries are affected by cold weather. They charge more slowly when the weather is cold, which is one of the reasons why we experience so many dead batteries in winter.

TIP: Help your battery charge at the most efficient rate possible by making sure that the connecting wires and terminal joints are clean and well connected.

TIP: Avoid short trip driving in cold weather. Be aware that short trips in cold weather drain the car’s battery faster than it recharges. If you make frequent short trips then the battery slowly loses charge and does not recharge enough. The result is a car that will not start.

Heating System and Cold Weather Driving

The heating system on your vehicle not only helps to keep you warm as you drive but also helps to keep the windows free of condensation. Without a heater, driving is not only miserable but also unsafe.

TIP: Have the radiator system flushed and new fluid installed before the cold weather hits.

After driving around in the summer heat, the chemicals in the car’s coolant system begin to break down. It is in your best interest if your antifreeze is in peak condition before winter hits. Not only will fresh antifreeze help protect your engine from freezing, it helps to keep your heater system working too. Most vehicles provide warm air to the cabin by pushing the hot water from the engine through a heater core. A fan is used to blow air over the core which warms the air. The cars ductwork shuttles the air to the cabin through open vents.

TIP: Use a vacuum to make sure the vents are clean and free of obstruction, especially the ones along the base of the windshield. Also look on the outside of the car along the base of the windshield and make sure that the cowl area is free of leaves and debris. That is usually the area where fresh air enters the vehicle.

Tire and Cold Weather Driving

Your tires are what keeps your vehicle in contact with the road. During the cold winter months, you might drive on wet roads, over black ice, or even through snow.

TIP: Inspect the tread on each tire for wear. The function of tire tread is not only to help the tire grip the pavement but also to help channel water away from the tread when you drive in rain or snow. Making sure the tire’s tread is in good condition helps improve safe driving.

TIP: Even a thin layer of snow can strand a vehicle. Make sure there is a set of snow chains in your vehicle, that they are the correct size, and that you know how to install them. Doing so can mean the difference being stranded for hours on the side of the road or sleeping in your warm bed.

Visibility and Winter Driving

Driving in rain, sleet, and snow limits the visibility of drivers. Help improve driving safety by making sure that all of the systems on your vehicle that provide visibility are in top working condition.

TIP: Replace the windshield wiper blades each autumn. If your vehicle is equipped with a rear window wiper make sure it is in good working order too. Summer’s hot temperature causes rubber and synthetic products to rot. Without good wiper blades the visibility in wet weather decreases and the risk of an accident increase.

Sub-zero Temperatures are tough enough to deal with without having car problems. Most of these tips are fairly easy ways that someone with basic care car experience can do at home. You can save a lot of money learning to work on your own car, or you can take your vehicle into a shop and allow a professional to help winterize your vehicle. As a last tip for winter driving, be prepared in case your vehicle breaks down and strands you. Keep a blanket, a small store of food, and fresh water in the vehicle at all time. Part of driving in winter is keeping you and your passengers safe and that includes from the harsh winter temperatures.

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