If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate you may not have to worry about this, but for many winterizing your car is essential. Not getting ready for winter weather puts you at risk unnecessarily. The good thing is that these steps take almost no time at all and are not going to be to hard on your wallet.
Here are some common sense ways to prepare you for cold weather:
Check your Anti-Freeze. One of the most important things you can do is check your Anti-freeze. You should have your anti-freeze tested at least 2 times a year. You will probably want to change it at least every 30,000 miles or every 2 years. This keeps it at peak performance and prevents it from breaking down. Usually you will want to have it diluted with water. A 50/50 mix is the normal ratio but the simple directions on your specific brand of anti-freeze will tell you exactly what the proper mix is.
Pressure Check for Leaks. When you change your anti-freeze you may want to pressure check the system. This will wash away any impurities, mineral deposits and rust that may eventually clog the system. While in there, check for any visible leaks around the hoses and clamps. You will also want to make sure the belts are tight and not frayed. One main reason you want to do this is because there is belt that drives the water pump. If the belt is not circulating it does not matter how new or unclogged your system is because you will have problems. Having the cooling system checked regularly can save a lot of heartache in the future and prevent you from walking in the snow instead of driving in it.
Check the Battery. Another important part to check is the battery. Cold weather sucks the life right out of a car battery. The performance of the battery is decreased - a lot. Fortunately you can have your battery tested to make sure it is at peak performance. You can bring your vehicle to most local service stations and have the battery and electrical system tested. If the battery is over 3 years old this may be a good idea.
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You can also visually inspect your battery and make sure the contacts do not have corrosion on them. Most new batteries are maintenance free, but it is a good idea to check. Make sure the water level is filled correctly and if it needs more use distilled water to level it off. Since the battery can lose its charge in cold weather, you may want to get a plug-in charger. With this you plug it in at night and attach it to your battery. In the morning you will be assured of a charged battery. This can make the difference between getting to work on time or not. Portable versions are also available which can be kept in the car as you travel. You will then be able to jump the battery if it does not have enough power to get anywhere on its own.
Oil. You can switch to lighter oil in the bitter cold months. This will offer quicker lubrication of the engine parts during colder periods.
Tires. Tires are important also. Some tires are all weather and give you decent traction in the snow. For those that are not you may either want to switch to all weather tires or get specially made snow tires. These have better traction but are not made for prolonged normal road use. Another option is attaching snow chains to tires for increased traction.
Windshield Blades. Having proper windshield wiper blades can also save you a lot of heartache as well. These should be changed as you change your oil. Being able to see in a snowstorm is just as important as having your car start. Proper visibility is key to accident avoidance.
Items you should have in the car as well to winterize it are: gloves, deicer, ice scraper, anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid (to de-ice as you drive), salt or sand, old rug for tire traction, shovel, car cover (to prevent icing) cell phone (you might need to call for help), flashlight and extra wiper blades.
All of these preventative measures are easy and not expensive compared to the time and money you will spend fixing problems instead of avoiding them.