Home & Garden

How should I maintain my car in winter?

Winter is hard on your car, but you can boost the odds in your favor with proper care before and during cold weather. (Dreamstime)
Winter is hard on your car, but you can boost the odds in your favor with proper care before and during cold weather. (Dreamstime)

As winter drags on and the temperature keeps dropping, the last thing you need is for your car to fizzle out on you. Fortunately, you can increase the odds of a smoothly functioning automobile with some basic car care. Follow these tips to ensure your vehicle starts up easily with the turn of a key.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU DRIVE

If you haven’t done so already, hire a mechanic to take a look at your car and winterize it. Batteries, spark plugs, fluids and delivery lines all take more wear and tear in cold weather. Get an oil change before the season begins, making sure to use the oil viscosity recommended by the manufacturer for cold weather vehicle operation. If your battery is more than three years old, consider replacing it.

Check your tire tread depth. You want all four tires to have at least 6/32 of an inch of tread to drive in winter conditions. Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Pay particular attention to your fluids. Keep your gas tank at least half-full if possible to prevent condensation from developing in the system. Make sure you have sufficient antifreeze, and keep the windshield wiper fluid topped off. This is also a good time to replace wiper blades.

WHAT TO DO AFTER WINTER BEGINS

Keep an eye on your tires as the winter progresses. Every 10-degree drop in temperature causes your tires to lose another pound per square inch of pressure, so tires that hold up well on a moderately cold day might lose traction on extremely cold days.

Wash your car frequently. Road crews spread salt on roads to melt ice, and while it’s very effective, it can also stick to your metal components and cause them to corrode.

Even cold weather wipers can get stuck to your windshield, especially during a freeze/thaw cycle or after a winter storm. Your best choice is to pull the wipers up and away from the windshield when not in use. If you forget and leave them in place, first pull them free of the windshield and remove any ice. If you don’t and they’re stuck when you turn on the wiper control, the rubber on one or both blades could tear.

Above all, drive safely! Even a car in perfect condition can get out of control easily on icy or snow-covered roads. Take particular care on corners and turns, and give other vehicles plenty of room to maneuver. Keep your lights on even during the day, which will make you more visible to other drivers.

Don’t park near snow overhangs, and periodically shovel or bush snow off your roof when parked.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Winter weather brings challenges for every part of your vehicle. Regular maintenance can help prevent most of these issues, but it also pays to take your time getting started and once you’re on the road. And when you run into a problem, get it serviced as soon as possible.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.