Car driving in snow.

Is Your Car Ready for Winter?

7 Tips to Winterizing Your Vehicle

Matt checking the anti-freeze temperature.
Matt Green, National Reconditioning Manager, checks anti-freeze temperature to prevent engine damage during winter.

Temperatures are dropping. Days are shorter. Before cold weather sets in, it’s the ideal time to prepare your vehicle for winter.

“There are two major swings in weather throughout the year. Extreme heat in the summer is hard on a vehicle. Likewise, extreme cold is also hard on a vehicle. So, you must prepare for both weather conditions,” says Matt Green, National Reconditioning Manager, and automotive expert.

7 tips for preparing your vehicle for winter

Ensure your vehicle is ready for cold weather with this 7-step checklist by Matt. Each step is crucial to preventative maintenance.

1. Check the coolant in your vehicle

It is important to have the correct antifreeze/water mixture to prevent fluid from freezing in your radiator. “Anti-freeze lowers the freezing point and protects your engine. Checking the anti-freeze is one of the first things to check,” says Matt. “It’s not an expensive thing to do. Plus, it’s crucial to the overall life of the engine.”

2. Test the battery

Checking the battery terminals for corrosion and loose connections.
Check the battery terminals for corrosion and loose connections.

Cold temperatures make it harder for an engine to work properly. For peace of mind, check your battery before the cold weather arrives and replace it if necessary. “If you don’t have a solid battery, it won’t want to start your vehicle when the temperature drops below 30 degrees,” Matt says.

When checking your car battery, be sure to look for signs of corrosion, and loose connections. Also, check the date on the battery sticker. If you’re unsure, take your car to an auto parts store and have them check the battery for you.

Check out our blog, How to Keep Your Car Battery Running Longer.

3. Check the air pressure on your tires

Changing temperatures can lead to uneven tire pressure, impacting overall wear and tear on your tires and your overall safety. “Weather change brings differences in tire volume which lowers your tire pressure. During the heat of the summer, as the air gets warm, your tires will expand, and you’ll have good pressure. As the temperature drops, you won’t have good pressure,” says Matt.

Learn more about tires in our blog, The Importance of Tire Rotation.

4. Inspect belts and hoses

Colder temperatures can split hoses and break belts, so replace them if necessary. “You want to go into winter knowing you’re not going to blow a hose or belt,” says Matt.

5. Ensure your windshield wipers are fully functional with ample washer fluid

Maximum visibility is key in inclement weather so make sure you have good, effective wiper blades and adequate all-season washer fluid.

Check out our blog, The Importance of Wiper Blades.

6. Check the heater and defroster

This tip is often overlooked. “On that cold morning when there is frost on the window, you need heat on the window so make sure the fans are working on all settings,” Matt advises.

7. Check the condition of the windshield, lights, and blinkers

Check the lights and blinkers to make sure they are working.
Check the lights and blinkers to make sure they are working.

Make sure you can see and be seen. Ensure your windshield, lights, and blinkers are clean and not foggy. “Since you’ll be driving more in the dark, you’ll want your windshield to be clear, your lights to not fog over and your blinkers to be seen by other drivers,” says Matt.

“These seven tips will ensure you are ready for winter and provide you with peace of mind about your vehicle,” says Matt, who also recommends including a roadside emergency car care kit. Read our emergency kit blog for what to include in your kit.

Finally, check our blog articles on preventive maintenance tips for your vehicle:

Has your vehicle reached the end of its life expectancy and time for a new one? Let us put you in an affordable, quality, used vehicle today. Check out our inventory at one of our locations.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in October 2019, and has been updated for additional clarity and with new links to other helpful Car-Mart blogs.

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