Prepare Your Car For Winter

Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter Car Prep

Yes, I know here in Southern California, our winters are way different than those almost everywhere else in the country. In fact, most other places in the country think we do not even have winter. But I know this is not true, whether you live here in the Inland Empire, or on the Coast, or in the San Fernando Valley, we do have winter driving conditions to contend with.

And it is a great idea to think about preparing your car and being sure it is ready for winter weather, rather than having a car problem when you least want it to happen (which is when car problems always occur.)  


In fact, as a little girl, I have a fond memory of my dear mother trudging home from a trip to take my sister to school, in her fuzzy slippers in the rain. I have no idea what was wrong with the car. I just remember her being not too happy.


Therefore, I am going to recommend some tips here for preparing your car for winter driving by completing some basic preventative maintenance items that will not only make your car more enjoyable to drive, but also keep your car running better, increase your car’s life, and even might keep you from being involved in a horrible accident. Oh yes, and keep you from getting caught in the rain with a non-running car.


We’ll start with some pretty easy and obvious items:


•Windshield Wipers: American Auto Care recommends you replace your windshield wiper blades once a year. So, make it a habit every January, to replace your blades. Our really hot and dry summers can take a huge toll on your blades. And you don’t want to wait until you get caught in a downpour to find out that your blades do not clear your windshield very effectively. Poor visibility is one of the highest causes of winter traffic accidents. Also, always stock-up on windshield washer fluid; it is surprising how much you will use during winter. Wet and muddy roads can dirty windows and lower visibility in a heartbeat.  


•Heater/Defroster: I think this is a pretty obvious one. You should be sure your heater and defroster are both in good working order, both for you and your passenger comfort and also again, for good visibility on the road. We can test your heating and defrosting system for you. And, when you come in, always let us know if you suspect a problem.


•Battery: The last thing you want is a dead battery and being stuck somewhere with a car that won’t start, windows that won’t go up, or lights that don’t go on. The only accurate way to test for a weak battery is with professional equipment. We are happy to test your battery and electrical system to ensure everything is working properly. Further, there are some periodic maintenance procedures that should be done to ensure your battery is at top performance. These procedures include: 1. Cleaning all corrosion from the battery posts and cable connections; 2.Cleaning all battery surfaces; 3. Re-tightening all connections; 4. And If battery caps are removable, checking fluid monthly.


•Engine Performance: If you have noticed unusual issues while driving, like hard starts, rough idle, reduced power, etc. now is the time to have these problems diagnosed and repaired before you get stuck in the pouring rain. Cold weather will make these problems worse; no use waiting until you have to leave for that important meeting to discover your car isn’t running. Once again make sure dirty filters get replaced immediately such as air filters, fuel filters, etc. And don’t be shy. It’s always a good idea to let us know if you suspect anything might be going wrong. Even if you have just brought your car in for nothing more than an quick oil change, if you mention something else that might be amiss, or seem odd, we are happy to check it out and diagnose it for you.


•Tires: Worn out tires can be huge hazard on rain-slicked roads, even if it is only drizzling, A routine examination of tires should be performed for remaining tread life, uneven wearing and cupping as well as examination of the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. And you should make it a regular habit to check and maintain tire pressure at recommended levels. Always check tire pressure after the tires have cooled down. You can buy a good tire gauge for less than $5, so make checking your tires a regular weekly practice. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 miles for maximum life and properly balanced every 10,000 miles. Always remember to check your spare and ensure your jack is in proper working order.


•Oil: Getting your oil and oil filter changed regularly is even more important in the cold weather, particularly if your driving consists of mostly in-the-city stop-and-go and frequent short trips. Replace your engine oil and oil filter every 3 months or 3,000 to 5,000 miles.


•Cooling System: I know it seems odd to mention the cooling system in cold weather. However your cooling system needs to be in top condition all the time to keep your engine running properly. Your engine's cooling system and antifreeze should be completely flushed out and refilled every 24 months, so check your records and be sure you are not due for a flush and refill.  


•Emergency Gear:  I know you are going to laugh at this, and think that being in Southern California makes winter less a threat. But, all it takes is being stuck with a non-running car in the pouring rain one-time to realize better safe than sorry. So what do we recommend you have? Let’s start with a flashlight and cell phone; then add flares, a shovel, a small bag of sand or kitty litter, a blanket and gloves. Oh yes, and some energy bars might be a good idea too.

We’ve already had several nights at or below freezing, so don’t put off being sure your car is in tip top shape. We are here to help with any questions or concerns you might have. And for winter driving tips for safer driving on wet roads, read winter driving tips.

Tags: prepare your car for winter, Winter Driving,Car Problems, Oil, Cooling, Tires, Battery, Heater, Engine