Winterize Your Vehicle
Winter is not friendly to your car, especially in Colorado. Cold temperatures force an engine to work harder. Tires lose their grip on snowy frozen roads. Potholes damage your suspension, wheels, and tires. Gravel chips away at your car's paint, and salt moves into those chips to rust your car away. But you don't have to make it easy for winter to hurt your ride. Preventive auto maintenance can help keep winter at bay. Here are ten tips for making your vehicle ready for winter.
1. Check your tires
If your tires don't have enough tread, or your car has summer tires, you're going to find it harder to control your vehicle in cold weather. Below 44.6°, all-season and summer tires lose effectiveness and grip. As they lose grip, the chance of skidding goes up. All-season tires work well up to a point, but for maximum winter traction, a set of winter tires is your best friend. Making sure your tires have enough tread left is also crucial. A winter tire with 5/32" of tread remaining will perform worse than a new all-season tire.
2. Check your tire pressure
In cold temperatures, your tire pressure will drop by itself. Properly inflated tires provide the best possible contact between the tire and the ground. Make sure you check at the start of the winter and continue to check frequently throughout the colder months. An easy way to do this is by checking every time you buy gas. Proper inflation also saves you money: it reduces tire wear and improves fuel economy.
3. Check your 4WD or AWD system
Many vehicles on the road today have either four-wheel-drive (4WD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems. These systems improve grip in slippery conditions. Many drivers of 4WD don’t know how to engage these systems, so consider reading the owner’s manual to learn how best to use these systems. It's a good idea to test these systems in the fall to make sure everything is functioning before you find yourself needing it in a snowstorm. By going to a CarMax Certified shop Colorado car owners can get their 4WD or AWD systems checked over and given a clean bill of health.
4. Change your oil for the winter
When winter arrives and freezes everything, it also freezes your oil. As oil gets colder, it thickens and makes it harder for your engine to start. While the oil is cold, it doesn't provide as much protection for your engine. You can avoid this with the correct oil. Many cars perform better in the winter with thinner synthetic oil. Check your owner's manual so you can confirm what kind of oil the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle in the winter. Or you can visit your favorite shop for auto repair in Colorado Springs.
5. Inspect the engine belts and coolant hoses
A car's engine belts and coolant hoses last a long time, but not forever. Cold weather and sub-zero temperatures can finish off already-weakened belts and hoses, so have them inspected at a Colorado Springs auto repair center before winter starts. Replace anything that needs it, and you won’t find yourself stranded in a blizzard.
6. Inspect the wipers and windshield washer fluid
Rain, snow, salt, and road grime can build up on your windshield, making it a struggle to see the road. Good windshield wipers are the first line of defense. They're inexpensive, but a lot of drivers forget about them. While you're at your favorite auto repair shop in Colorado Springs, get your mechanic to top up the windshield washer fluid with winter fluid that contains anti-freeze to help keep the windshield clean and ice-free.
7. Check the battery
Freezing temperatures are the lie detector of car batteries. A battery that works well in the summer might suddenly give up as soon as the winter rolls around. A car service center can test your battery and let you know how well your battery will do in the upcoming winter.
8. Check coolant level
Your car's engine coolant doesn't just keep things cool. It also contains anti-freeze, essential for keeping the engine from freezing. It's key to make sure that your coolant is topped off and isn't leaking. As coolant ages, it loses its ability to resist freezing. If it's been a couple of years since you've had your coolant replaced, consider visiting a mechanic shop near you to have the coolant tested. Testing is a quick job, and any express auto repair shop can have you in and out and ready to go. If the coolant doesn’t pass the test, then it’s time to get the coolant flushed and replaced.
9. Carry an emergency kit in your car
A roadside tool kit doesn't take up much space and can be valuable in an emergency. Many companies offer ready-made kits, but you can save money by assembling one yourself. Chances are you probably have some of the following already:
10. Check that the climate control system works
The last thing you want is to find out that your heater doesn’t work when it’s -30°. Before the winter comes, it’s a good idea to check that the heater and the air conditioner work. You may not know this, but running the air conditioner in the winter is a great way to remove condensation from the inside of your car, even in the winter. You can even run the air conditioner with the heat on and speed up window defrosting while staying warm and toasty. While you're checking your heater, it's also time to check the rear window and mirror defrosters if your vehicle has them. A properly functioning climate control is essential to keeping your windows free and clear of ice. It's also great for keeping you warm!