Winter Car Maintenance Precautions You Need to Take

Car tires on winter road

A winter wonderland may make for a beautiful landscape, but it also makes for treacherous driving conditions. The snow and ice make it difficult for you to maintain traction on the road, and the extreme drop in temperature changes the pressure on your tires and the consistency of the fluids in your engine. A simple mechanical problem could leave you stranded on the side of the road, which is a much bigger problem in the winter when you are waiting for hours in sub-zero temperatures with no heat.

It is essential that you get the right maintenance before winter begins so that your car is ready for these changes and will carry you through the season safely. Here are a few key winter car maintenance precautions you need to take:

Get an Oil Change

A basic oil change is important winter preparation. When the temperatures drop, your oil becomes thicker and will not move through your engine as easily. If the oil is already old or dirty, the consistency will already be thicker and slower. With the freezing temperatures, the oil may be like sludge in your engine, hardly moving.

Fortunately, you can get an oil change in Cincinnati quickly and cheaply with McCluskey Chevrolet’s World’s Best Oil Change service. This is one of the easiest and most affordable maintenance precautions you can take.

Check Important Parts

Problems with hoses, belts, spark plugs, your water pump and more can lead to a break down. Don’t wait until there’s a problem with one of these items and you are freezing on the side of the road while you wait for a tow truck or the auto club.

Take your car in now to make sure all these parts are working properly and will make it through the winter season. Replace anything that is starting to age out, and repair anything that can be repaired.

Check the Tire Pressure

The lower temperatures also change the air pressure in your tires. For every 10 degrees that the temperature drops, your tire pressure drops by about one pound. If you checked your tire pressure when it was warm outside and haven’t checked it since, the pressure is probably too low. Low tire pressure will compromise your traction, which can be disastrous on icy and wet roads.

Check the tire pressure when the temperature drops, and check it regularly throughout the season.

Get Snow Tires

Snow tires will help you navigate slushy, icy terrain more safely. If you cannot invest in four new snow tires, just buy two tires. That means two front tires if you have front-wheel drive or two rear tires if you have rear-wheel drive. If you have all-wheel drive, you should buy four snow tires.

Also consider tire chains if your city permits them.

Check the Battery

Again, you don’t want to find yourself stranded during the winter, and a dead battery is one of the most common causes. Just like your tires lose pressure in the cold weather, your battery also loses power. At the same time, your car requires more power to start because the oil and other fluids are thicker and don’t move through the engine as easily.

If your battery needs to be replaced, look for one that has a good CCA rating. CCA stands for “cold cranking amps.” You want a battery with at least 600 CCA to get you through the winter without incident. 

Fill the Wiper Fluid

Your wiper fluid can help you clear that light film of ice that starts to form when it’s half raining, half snowing. But if your wiper fluid reservoir falls low, it can freeze right in the tank. Avoid this problem by keeping your wiper fluid full at all times.

Also check your wipers to make sure they are in good shape. Upgrade to a winter wiper if you can, which has a thicker blade with a rubber coating to clear ice without letting the ice stick to it.

Wax Your Car

Salt is applied liberally to the streets to melt the snow and ice and clear the asphalt. While that might make your drive easier, it will also spray salt onto your car, which can damage the paint job and even lead to rust.

Protect your car by thoroughly cleaning it and applying a thick coat of wax before the winter season starts. 

Stock Emergency Supplies

Even if you perform all the right maintenance and do everything you can for your car, you still might have a malfunction that leaves you stranded. You could also run out of gas, get a flat tire, or have an accident. Whatever the reason you are stuck, you don’t want to wait around in the cold for too long without the right supplies.

Keep your car stocked with an emergency kit. Include basic first aid supplies, a flare gun, a warm blanket, a warm change of clothes, a few snacks, a few bottles of water, a flashlight, some spare batteries, and some signal flags. 

Keep a spare tire, a donut or a can of fix-a-flat in your trunk also. If you have the room, consider adding a bag of sand. The sand will add weight to your car for better traction while you are driving. If you get stuck in some ice or mud, you can also spread the sand around to give you some traction to get out.

Talk to your mechanic about other maintenance that your car needs to get ready for the winter season, such as checking the antifreeze, the cooling system, and the window defroster. You might also consider carrying a block heater in your car.

 

Getting ready for the winter doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple oil change in Cincinnati can be a great start that ensures your engine runs well and all the parts are moving smoothly. Think through the conditions that are unique to your area and what your car needs to manage them. A little planning will go a lot way to prevent a disaster.