How to Prepare Your Car for Winter

Winter is now here, which can be an enemy for cars across many parts of the country.  Cold temperatures, snow, sleet and ice can cause problems on how a car operates and drives on the road.

Not having your car prepared for the winter can be potentially harmful to you, as well as others on the road.  So if your car isn’t winterized yet, it’s time to get your car prepared.

Think about your battery. Freezing temperatures can reduce a battery’s power by up to 50 percent – and during the winter, when you have the heat on, the defroster going and maybe the windshield wipers, you’ll want your car to be operating as well as possible. You’ll also want to keep track of your battery’s age, so that you don’t wind up stuck somewhere in the cold.  Car batteries often last three to five years.

Monitor your fluids. You probably know that keeping your antifreeze and coolant mix at the appropriate levels to prevent the engine from freezing and reduce corrosion is important. A 50/50 mix will keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as -34 degrees. If you don’t have the right mix of coolant and antifreeze in your car during the winter, your engine could actually freeze. You also might want to use a lighter grade of oil during the winter months if you live in a cold climate. If you’re worried about any of this, and especially if you haven’t had your oil changed for awhile, visit your nearest Milex/Mr. Transmission. We’ll be glad to tell you if your oil needs changing and evaluate your fluids.

Keep your tank half full. That’s never a bad idea, but in the winter, it’s especially important to keep your tank at least half full. That will decrease the chances of moisture from condensation freezing and block the flow of gas in the fuel lines.

Check your tires. It’s important to monitor your tires during the winter, especially if you’re somewhere extremely cold, because the air can cause the tires to contract and drop in pressure. If your tires are running with less air in them than normal, it can hurt the tread and reduce the traction of your car. Traction, of course, is very important if you’re driving on ice. Your owner’s manual will have its recommendations for the suggested pounds per square inch, and you can always fill up your tires at virtually any local gas station in the area.

Another bonus with keeping your tires properly inflated – you can save on your gas mileage, as much as three percent.

Make sure you’re going to be able to see out the windshield. That is, have your scraper nearby and easily accessible. You’ll want to make sure your wiper blades are in proper working order and free of cracking or deteriorating – and make sure you have ample wiper fluid.

And be sure to remind yourself that when it does get cold, and snow and ice ravage your car, you will need to wait for the windshield to defrost.  Although it takes some extra time to scrape the windshield or have it defrost, it is much safer than driving with only a limited view of the road.

Create a winter weather kit. Although hopefully it never happens to you, the chances of having car trouble or an accident related to the road conditions increases with wintery conditions.  In the event this happens, you will want to have an emergency kit in place that includes a flashlight, jumper cables, cell phone charger, ice scrapper, snow brush, blanket, bottled water and dry food snacks. You may also want to put in the truck a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter to spread on the ground to gain better traction on icy patches.

The winter puts a lot of stress on our cars.  Make sure you are taking the proper precautions to take care of your vehicle and stay safe on the roads this time of year.

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