Used Car Winterization Tips
By Hanna Nilson
Just as we winterize
our homes with insulation, space heaters and extra blankets as well
as our wardrobe with scarf's, hats, coats and gloves; used car
winterization is just as necessary for being ready to tackle those
bitter cold temperatures.
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Many take the power and
durability of their used car or truck for granted. Although cars are now built to
endure a great range of temperature changes and harsh weather
conditions, there are certain car winterization practices which can
maximize on the performance, safety and longevity of both your used, pre-owned
and/or new car.
Of course, a general
tune-up for your car is the best way to get professional help with
beginning the process of used car winterization. However, the following
winterization checklist is meant to serve as an informational
reminder to anyone who is interested in taking better care of their
car before, during and after the winter season.
If your battery is within a year of its life expectancy, have it
tested. It's smarter to deal with an aging battery on a pleasant
fall weekend than a totally dead one in the dreary cold of winter.
A weak battery and/or alternator may not be able to deliver the
required energy charge or
for a winter-cold
start. Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of a highway with a
dead car battery, so plan ahead and have your battery checked.
It's important to check all the belts and hoses because any
cracked or tattered rubber may not make it through the winter.
Without car winterization, the combination of freezing
temperatures and ruthless winter driving conditions adds strain on
practically every part of your car's engine. Taking precautions
ahead of time might save you the trouble of dealing with a
breakdown, which is all the more annoying during cold winters.
One of the most common practices of used car winterization is taking a
close look at your tire tread. Driving on snow and icy roads
requires as much traction as your tires can deliver. For
rear-wheel drive/front engine cars, be very particular when
inspecting the tread on the rear tires. The back tires are where
you really need the extra grip. Also, making sure that your tires
are fully pressurized will always help with driving safely in
winter conditions. Note that the colder temperatures will reduce
the pressure in your tires, so before it starts getting cold, be
sure to fill them to their appropriate capacity.
Most anti-freezes are an ethylene glycol based fluid with low
freezing and high boiling points when mixed with water. Even if
the fluids look relatively fresh, it is recommended that it be
checked every 30,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first.
These chemicals loose their strength towards the end of this time
period. So, chances are, if you didn't change the anti-freeze last
winter, you may want to consider keeping a close watch on it in
order to avoid engine corrosion.
Warning: mixing different types of anti-freeze is a definite
Your motor oil should be changed regularly, regardless of the
seasons. However, if your car is expected to experience unusually
high or low tempters, you may want to consider double-checking the
owner's manual for the recommended winter or summer rating. For
example, if you use thicker oil for sever summer driving
conditions and are looking at a relatively colder winter, this
would be the time for changing the oil to a thinner weight.
Winter is the toughest season for your used car's window wiper blades.
Window wipers are not very tolerant of the salted road-slush.
Therefore, to avoid being stuck in a winter storm with minimal
visibility and inefficient window cleaning materials, be sure to
stock-up on washer fluid. Also, it is an important used car
winterization procedure to check if there are any scratches or
cracks in your windshield, it's best to have them repaired before
winter starts. With the combination of a cold window and a warm
interior, a small scratch can quickly grow into a large crack.
Having an engine exhaust or carbon monoxide leak in your car's
exhaust system can be very dangerous. Check your car's exhaust
system and your floorboards. If the exhaust is leaking and the
heater is on with the windows closed, as they usually are during
winter, the consequences could be potentially fatal! Although it
is uncommon, for your safety, be sure to have the exhaust fixed as
soon as possible.
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