Seasonal changes don’t affect just you. They also affect your car. You wouldn’t dream of heading outside without a coat if the wind chill brought the temperature below freezing. Don’t expect your car to function properly without some attention to its winter needs, too.
• Engine oil in the winter: The oil in your engine changes depending on how hot or cold the engine is running. Because the outside temperatures will influence the internal temperature of your engine, you need to make sure you’re using the proper oil for the conditions.
During the winter months, if you live where temperatures get below freezing, you’ll want to switch over to thinner viscous oil. If you run a 10W-30 in the summer, for example, try moving to a 5W-30 when changing your oil in the fall or winter. If you are in doubt, refer to your manual or the manufacturer.
• Engine coolant: You car’s coolant system is not intended only to keep your engine from overheating. It is also responsible for protecting your valuable engine against corrosion. Before the weather gets too cold, make sure you are using coolant with ethylene glycol to help protect your engine.
Every vehicle requires a certain ratio of coolant to water, and your owner’s manual or repair technician can explain what your engine needs. For most vehicles, a winter ratio is 60 percent coolant to 40 percent water. Adjusting this ratio is an important step in winterizing your car, so if you need help, ask someone who is experienced and knowledgeable.
Additionally, some engines can only take specific types of coolant. Be sure to check with you vehicle manual to make sure you are putting the right type of coolant into your car.
• Cold weather and battery capacity: It isn’t only your engine that doesn’t like to start in the winter. Your battery capacity is reduced by the cold weather, too. A thorough inspection of your battery, cables, terminals, and fluid will help you make sure your car is ready for the winter.
Check over the battery cables for cracks and breaks. The terminals should fit snugly with no loose connections. You can check your battery fluid by uncovering the refill hole (or sometimes holes). If the level is below the bottom of the cap, refill with distilled water.
• Snow tires: When it comes to really dealing with winter weather, your tires are out there mixing with the snow, sleet, and ice. Driving in snow can be very difficult and sometimes dangerous; still, the reality is you need to get to work.
Mounting the right tires on your car or truck can give you a huge advantage when trekking through snow. Many car makers and tire manufacturers recommend changing all four tires to snow tires in the winter.
Another option is all-season tires that you use year-round winter and summer. The advantage of all-season tires is that you don’t change the tires before winter or need to keep two sets of rims.
• Windshield treatment: For best results in clearing off cold, heavy grime, select a washer fluid with an antifreeze solution.