Most of us know that getting regular oil changes and basic maintenance on our car is a no-brainer. Failing to do so could cause major expensive repairs and lower the value of the car. The same is true when it comes to some basic steps for preparing our cars for the winter weather. Not only is it important to winterize our cars each year from a maintenance perspective, but it's also really important for safety.
Not many of us would brave the cold weather without putting on some warm clothes of some sort; and likewise, our cars need a little prep time too. We have young kids and we do a lot of traveling to see family over the winter, so my husband and I took the initiative to make sure both of our cars were winterized this year, and it's given me a lot of comfort that we did. Here are a few things that we made sure to do:
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How to Winterize Your Car
Windshield Wipers. Getting your windshield wipers checked is especially important for the winter months. Make sure your fluid is filled and the wipers are in good working condition. You might also look into a washer fluid with an antifreeze solution in it.
Switch Out Engine Oil. Because outside temperatures have an effect on your engine's internal temperature, you will want to switch to a thinner, less vicious oil if the winters where you live reach below freezing. Refer to your car manual for more information on which oil you should be using.
Car Wash Routine. A lot of people wash their cars in the summer, but neglect the routine in the winter when it is most important. Sand, salt and ice from winter weather can cause corrosive damage to your car. Vehicular corrosion occurs most quickly when the temperature fluctuates above and below freezing. This is one thing my husband realized we have been neglecting in our winterizing efforts. We just washed our car today! The International Carwash Association recommends finding a car wash that is part of the WaterSavers® program. There are more than 1,500 environmentally friendly car washes worldwide enrolled in the program that meet water quality and usage standards. These car washes use 40 gallons (151.5 liters) or less of fresh water per car. Find a participating car wash near you by visiting www.washwithwatersavers.com.
Tire Safety. Make sure that your tires not only have enough tread, but that they are inflated properly as well. Tires are expensive and it can be difficult to convince yourself to replace them if needed, but it's super important for safety and also for proper maintenance on your car. If you live where there is heavy snowfall, it might be a good idea to switch your tires out for snow tires during the winter months.
Engine Coolant. The coolant system in your car helps protect your engine against corrosion and it's important in winter months to make sure you are protecting your engine by using coolant with ethylene glycol, which has antifreeze properties. Your vehicle requires a certain ratio of coolant to water (for most vehicles it's 40% water to 60% water), and some vehicles only take certain kinds of coolants, so refer to your manual for this as well.
Heater and Defroster. If your windows are fogging too much, you may want to make sure that your defroster is in good working condition and that there are no doors or windows leaking air and bringing in moisture. And if you don't want to freeze, also check heater coils to make sure they aren't faulty.
Battery. During cold weather your battery capacity is reduced. Before winter begins, check the manufacturer date to know how old it is. Also check the cables, terminals and fluid to make sure everything is functioning correctly and in good shape. The terminals should have a snug fit and not be loose and your cables should not have any breaks or cracks.
Emergency Kit. Despite our best efforts, emergencies happen and sometimes we end up stranded. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car so you are prepared and safe. This should include blankets, jumper cables, flares, flashlights, and anything else you think would be helpful in an emergency situation.
Water Savers Giveaway
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Carwash Association. The opinions and text are all mine.