Getting your vehicle ready for the winter months is an important chore for any vehicle owner. By preparing your car, you can avoid high repair bills and breaking down at the worst possible times.
Start preparing your car for winter by having a certified mechanic fix any major problems with the vehicle. Freezing temperatures can make existing problems with a vehicle, such as engine or transmission issues much worse. While he or she is fixing these issues, also have him or her check the battery and electrical system, heater, exhaust, and defroster system. Issues with these areas of the car can lead to big problems, high repair bills, and possible being stranded.
While this step can cost some money, it will be cheaper to pay for the small issues to be fixed now than wait for them to turn into larger problems later on. Fortunately, the other necessary steps can be done on your own and only cost a few dollars.
Start by pouring a bottle of fuel or gas de-icer directly into the gas tank. This fluid will keep any excess moisture from freezing inside the fuel line. During the winter, try to keep the gas tank as full as possible in order to prevent gas from freezing in the tank.
Next, refill the cooling system. While many people believe that this isn’t a critical system during the winter, the cooling system actually regulates the engine temperature. If it isn’t taken care of, the temperature extremes that the engine experiences can crack the engine block. To refill the system, wait until the engine has completely cooled down, then unscrew the radiator cap. Mix up a mixture of half water and half antifreeze and pour this into the reservoir up to the fill line.
Check the windshield wiper blades and replace them if needed. Consider buying rubber-clad blades if you have to leave your vehicle outside in sub-freezing weather. Also, refill your windshield washer fluid reservoir.
Next, check out all of the vehicle’s lights and bulbs. Replace any bulbs that have burned out and clean off any grime from the lenses. If the lenses are cloudy, scrub them with a lens cleaning solution.
Also use this opportunity to check the tire pressure for all of the tires. Colder weather often means that the tire pressure will drop, so don’t be surprised if your tires need to be filled.
Lastly, assemble an emergency kit for your vehicle. Try to include a few blankets, some road flares, a small shovel, an ice scraper, coarse sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Make sure that you also include one gallon of water for each potential passenger in the vehicle.