Professionals know there’s more to winter car care than antifreeze and batteries, but many motorists don’t always think beyond that. In the deep freeze that is gripping much of North America, the right maintenance is a matter of safety, not just mobility.
Vehicles need extra attention in winter, especially when temperatures drop below zero, says the non-profit Car Care Council.
“Sub-zero temperatures can have a real impact on your vehicle,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling, and very cold temperatures reduce battery power. If you haven’t had your vehicle checked recently, a thorough vehicle inspection is a good idea so you can avoid the aggravation and unexpected cost of a breakdown in freezing weather.”
The Car Care Council offers six quick tips to help that will help a vehicle perform at its best during cold weather months.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full; this decreases the chance of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
- Check the tire pressure, including the spare, as tires can lose pressure when temperatures drop. Consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
- Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
- Allow your car a little more time to warm up when temperatures are below freezing so that the oil in the engine and transmission circulate and get warm.
- Change to low-viscosity oil in winter as it will flow more easily between moving parts when it is cold. Drivers in sub-zero temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
- Consider using cold weather washer fluid and special winter windshield blades if you live in a place with especially harsh winter conditions.
Drivers should stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.