How to winterize your car
How to winterize your car
The intense winterization of cars is not what it used to be, according to Marc Boulanger, Master Technician and owner of Calgary's Alpine Autowerks. That said, it's still important to have your car in tiptop condition for Canada's unpredictable – and often extreme – winter weather conditions. Cold temperatures can be hard on an engine, icy road conditions limit traction, gravel pits paint, salt rusts, and frost leaves damaging potholes on the road.
Check your tires
You can't control the road conditions, but you do have some control over your vehicle's response to icy roads. Worn tires should be replaced. Consider snow tires, which are optimized for snow and ice conditions.
Check your tire pressure. Air contracts in cold weather, so check regularly to make sure your tires are properly inflated.
Check your fluid levels.
Your owner's manual will list the manufacturer's oil recommendation for different climates. This is important to the life and performance of your car. As temperatures plummet, the oil in your car thickens and that can lead to difficulties with oil properly lubricating the engine. Winter oil tends to be thinner.
To prevent moisture from freezing in the gas lines, keep your gas tank as full as possible during the cold winter months. Don't let your gauge drop below the half full mark.
Check your car's heater, block heater and defroster. Are they in good working order?
Check the battery
"The battery is the most important aspect of your winter checklist," says Boulanger. And, in winter checklists, it's often overlooked. Cold weather weakens batteries and can leave your car and you potentially vulnerable. Check your battery to make sure posts and connections are corrosion free, and consider having the battery checked by your mechanic if it's older than three years.
Are you due (or overdue) for a service check? Winter is not the time to delay regular service and maintenance.
When was your last brake check? Refer to your owner's manual for regular maintenance, but consider having them checked if it's been six months or more.
Check your windshield wipers
A snowstorm is not the time or place to discover you've waited too long to replace your wiper blades. In many areas of Canada, winter temperatures can fluctuate wildly and it's important to keep your wiper fluid levels up in anticipation of quick thaws. Inspect your wipers closely. With wear and salt buildup, it's easy to go through a pair of wiper blades every year.
If your windshield has chips and cracks, give serious consideration to replacing it. Dramatic differences in indoor and outdoor temperatures - called thermal shock - can turn a minor crack into a major visibility hazard if it starts to run. Often small chips can be inexpensively filled, saving you money in the long run.
A relatively quick winterization of your vehicle can ultimately save you time and money. More importantly, it could save you!
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