Updated 01/17/2013 05:00 AM
The Car Coach: Winterize your vehicle
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Winterizing your vehicle is a wise idea. The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh, icy winter weather. A vehicle check before the temperatures drops is a sensible way to avoid both the inconvenience of being stranded out in the cold and the unexpected expense of emergency repairs.
I recommend the following steps for winterizing your vehicle:
1. Battery - Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
2. Antifreeze - Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
3. Engine oil - Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to "winter weight" oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
4. Stay warm - Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly.
5. Winter wiper blades - use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
6. Tires - Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
7. Problems - If you're due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
8. Brakes - Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle's most important safety item.
9. Exhaust - Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
10. All the Lights - Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
11. Gasoline - Motorists should keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming and possibly freezing in the gas lines.
12. Carry the proper gear- Don’t drive anywhere without an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, tire inflation product, jumper cables, flashlight, LED flares, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.
If you don’t have an owner’s manual or need more information on vehicle maintenance, The Car Care Council offers the "Be Car Care Aware" information guide for FREE.