Beat the Weather: How to Winterize Your Car
Your car battery loses power as the cold sets in–a 35-percent loss when temperatures hit 32 degrees Fahrenheit and a 65-percent loss when they get down to zero. Without enough power, your car won’t start.
But how do you make sure your battery and everything else in your car works in winter?
Luckily, since 1980, vehicles have been manufactured to function better in low temperatures so car winterization isn’t such a cumbersome process. Nevertheless, there are still some simple things you should do to make sure you are safe on the road and able to get your car started in the morning.
To help, we’ve put together a guide to help you winterize your car.
Take these easy steps to prep your car before the cold weather sets in. Most you can do yourself or grab your mechanic to help.
1. Winterize Your Car Battery
Cold weather slows down the chemical reactions of battery fluids that generate power to your car. Considering that your car requires more battery output in winter and that at five-degrees Fahrenheit the amp-hour capacity of a fully charged lead battery is half, you really want to keep your battery in prime winter condition so it always starts in the dregs of winter and you don’t stall.
Make sure there is no corrosion, whether white crystal-looking buildup or fungus buildup, on the ports and terminal posts and under the clamps where connections occur. Corrosion inhibits efficient transmission of energy. To clean corrosion yourself, use battery cleaners with brushes for easy access and wear gloves as corrosive material can hurt your skin.
Also, make sure that your battery is fully charged before winter. When it’s not fully charged, it can freeze, starting at 20-degrees Fahrenheit if not completely charged. If the battery freezes, it leads to cracks and internal damage that can’t be fixed.
In addition, consider a heavy duty battery optimal for cold weather, with high cold cranking amps (CCA), that can deal with the need to generate a lot more power in winter. Ask your local service mechanic be
2. Make Sure You Have Good Pressure in Your Tires
When the temperature drops, so does the air pressure in your tires, by 1 psi for every 10-degree-Fahrenheit drop. When tires are fully inflated, they have more contact with the road and grip it better to create top-notch traction. So if you’re not going with snow tires for the winter season, definitely keep tires properly inflated.
3. Think About Putting Snow Tires On Your Car in Winter
Snow tires are more flexible than all-season tires. They boast rubber that is more supple and stays that way in the coldest, driest temperatures. They grip the road and also snow and ice, thanks to special snow-grip tread patterns. The grip isn’t perfect so you still need to drive safe in the tough winter conditions.
Take a look at tire options. For example, here is a list of great-grip tires for Jeep.
4. Get Your Four-Wheel Drive in Prime Condition
If you have 4WD, you’re ahead of the game in winter as long as it’s in top condition with fluid topped off and the system engaging smoothly. Four-wheel drive creates greater traction on the road which is another plus in snow and icy conditions.
5. Winterize Your Wiper Blades
Consider special winter wiper blades if you experience excessive and lengthy cold weather. They are more sturdy and seeing out your windshield is a must and not always so easy with salt and winter precipitation buildup. Replace windshield wipers annually and use wiper fluid that freezes at the lowest temperature you can find.
6. Winterize Your Oil
Cold temperatures cause motor oil to thicken which lowers its efficiency in the lubrication of your engine. And if your car isn’t lubricated right when you head out in the morning and the temperature hits those lows, it won’t start.
Use a motor oil grade that has lower viscosity, in other words, one that is thinner. Check your car manual or ask your mechanic for the ideal viscosity for winter for your car.
Look at the grade label for oil which looks like this: XW-XX. The number before the W, which stands for “winter,” is the oil flow at 0 Fahrenheit, so the lower the number the better. Look for 0W or 5W for low-temperature winter weather. Also, synthetic oils can be made to lubricate better in low temperatures.
7. Make Sure Your Hoses and Belts Are in Good Shape
The cold puts extra wear and tear on belts and hoses, making them dry and brittle. Check yours before the winter season and replace any that are not in good shape.
8. Make Sure Your Antifreeze-Water Mix Is Just Right
Antifreeze keeps your radiator coolant fluid. It needs to be at about 50-percent water and 50-percent antifreeze. Make sure it’s at the right blend. Ask your mechanic to check or purchase an antifreeze tester. Your local auto parts shop should carry it, and it won’t cost you a hefty amount.
Prep Your Car and Be In-the-Know About Local Roads
Follow these simple steps to winterize your car and you will have a car that’s ready to go in low temperatures. It’s also a good idea to know your turf in winter and how to navigate snowy and icy roads in your area.
Here’s a quick guide you can read next to better prepare your car or truck in one area that gets hit hard by winter. If you find that your current car just won’t cut it this winter, check our inventory of new and used cars.