How to Winterize Your Car
Winterizing your car should be as automatic as adding storm doors to your house or pulling that puffer jacket out of the mothballs. Don’t put it off. When you rely on a vehicle to get to work or school, you need it to be ready for anything. Take a weekend and grab some supplies to get your car ready for snow season.
Pack an Emergency Car Kit
If you keep essentials like jumper cables, flashlight, and a spare phone charger in your car at all times, you’re already ahead of the game. Here’s a longer checklist to make sure you have what it takes to get through a real weather emergency:
- Spare tire – Be sure it’s in good condition and that you have all the tools you need to change it.
- Radio – Invest in a hand-cranked car radio.
- Flares – Make sure you are visible in foggy and blizzard conditions.
- Car engine fluids – Buy a bottle of washer fluid suitable for winter, engine coolant, and lighter-weight engine oil.
- Phone numbers – Keep your auto club and insurance company in your speed dial.
Think the Worst
No one likes to think about getting snowed in or stuck in a ditch, but it’s possible in some areas. Take a few hours one afternoon and gather these items to stash in your back seat or trunk: Electric car blankets, a pair of waterproof boots, heavy gloves, a ski mask or hat, snacks and a few bottles of drinking water. If you have small children, bring extras, plus a spare box of diapers, wipes and twist-tie trash bags.
Prevent Frozen Car Locks
Speaking of fluids, make sure you have a tube of glycerin on hand. This is a life-saver if the car door locks freeze up. If you try to force it, your key can break off. Warm water is a go-to, but a squirt of deicer or glycerin in the keyhole is more practical. Buy it at any automotive shop. Just make sure you keep it on your key ring or in a pocket; it does no good sitting in your glove box if you’re locked out.
Check Your Fluids
The best car engine oil for cold weather is thinner, because cold weather makes oil more viscous. Take a look at your vehicle manual and see what works best for your make and model. Check the coolant level, too; it protects against corrosion. Brands containing ethylene glycol will protect your engine best. Finally, keep your windshield washer fluid topped off with a type that cuts through salt and road grime.
Buy Snow Tires Now
Snow tires are a must in some parts of the country. It’s a matter of safety in uncertain conditions. Many car manufacturers recommend that you add four snow tires each winter; not just two. Use online coupons to help you get the best deal on snow tires, tire studs, and all-season tires.
Check Your Car Battery
You don’t want to chance a dead battery on a frigid morning. Have a local auto repair shop or service station check yours out: capacity, terminal connections, cables and fluid levels. Your car may have a built-in hydrometer gauge, or you can buy one. If you need to buy a new car battery, make sure it was manufactured less than six months from your date of purchase.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If snow is in your forecast, be careful. It only takes a few minutes to winterize a car. Get your car’s cold-sensitive systems checked out and make a quick dash to the store for the supplies you need. Or you can spare a trip and order online using coupon codes.