How to Winterize Your Vehicle

 

Hearing someone say ‘winter is coming’ is not as ominous as it is in Game of Thrones, but it does mean a few things in Canada. Our winters are not mild, so every aspect of our lives needs to be prepared for the season, and this goes for our vehicles as well. Here is a quick shortlist of things you need to do for your vehicle before the cold and snow takes over.

Check your Coolant

You can find antifreeze for winter use, but regular liquid should be good enough. However, you should check your coolants freezing point to make sure it is adequate for your area. If there is any doubt, you should change it. It is not expensive and if it freezes, it can cause major damage.

Do a Body Checkup

You can perform much of this yourself, as it mostly includes visual inspection. Check for any loose parts in your wheel wells or under the body that need tightening so that they do not fall off when snow starts gathering against them.

Similarly, you should check your car for any budding rust as winter conditions speed up oxidation significantly. What starts as a minor underpaint bulge at the beginning of winter might end up as a significant problem by the time spring rolls around.

If you can lift your vehicle to have a good look at its undercarriage, that would be a great idea, as you will see some parts that are otherwise hidden.

Wiper Fluid and Blades

Winter conditions require special fluids that are freeze resistant. It would not be good if wiper fluid froze in its delivery lines. If fluid is near its freezing point it can even freeze on your windshield, obscuring your vision just after it is sprayed. In any case, wet roads can cause a layer of grime on your windshield that can impact visibility quickly. Having an ample supply of temperature appropriate wiper fluid helps keep you safe.

You may also want to consider replacing your wiper blades with more durable winter blades which don’t buckle under the weight of snow and ice.

Belts and Hoses

Even though belts and hoses usually have completely different tasks, we’ve put them together here. The reason is that they react similarly to very low temperatures. If there are any tears or other wear, cold weather may lead to snapping or leaking. Low temperatures make belts and hoses more rigid and any kind of minor damage on them can lead to an issue when it gets really cold.

A simple inspection can determine if there is any damage to your belts and hoses. If it exists, it is best to get repairs done early – before they worsen over the winter season.

Engine Oil Viscosity

Oil is very important as its viscosity changes depending on the outside temperature. In the case of a 10W-30 oil, the 10W represents how easily the oil flows in winter(W) temperatures and a lower number flows more freely. The 30 represents the oils flow at operating temperatures, or in hot weather. A higher number here coats better and provides more protection to your engine. A mechanic will know if you need to change oil and also which oil meets all the requirements – has the appropriate viscosity for extreme colds and matches your particular engine.

Battery Level and Connections

Cold weather is much harder on your battery, so you should make sure it is in good condition. If your car sits outside in the cold for a long time, it may have problems starting, especially in the morning after a freezing night. Connections should be rust-free and the battery should be well charged and not be older than 4 or 5 years.

Winter Tires and Tread

Just like belts and hoses, tires also do not like low temperatures. It should go without saying that you should have winter tires on your vehicle, but also make sure they are not worn or damaged.

Even if your winter tires are in good condition, tires can deteriorate with age. The rubber loses its grip on ice and snow when old, regardless of the tread depth.

You should make sure tire pressure is at the appropriate level. For driving on ice and snow, having your tires too inflated is as bad as not inflating them enough. This is because low pressure tires have more surface area contacting the road allowing more traction.

Make sure you inspect your tires regularly throughout the winter season. They really take the greatest toll during winter driving, so keeping them in good condition is essential.

Fuel

Having at least half of the tank full at all times will protect your engine in winter conditions. Unless you do this, condensation can form in the empty part of your gas tank, and in the winter that condensation can freeze. This causes ice in your fuel lines and your vehicle might not start. The more full you keep your gas tank, the less likely this is to happen. Icy roads can also slow down traffic or cause delays, so make sure you always have more fuel than you need to get where you’re going.

Winter Safety Items

In cold weather you might need to have some things by your side that are not usually required. These include anything you might need in case you get stranded somewhere for a few hours or longer. You should pack an emergency kit in your car that includes winter clothes, a space blanket and candle, matches, a flashlight, shovel, kitty litter or sand, jumper cables, windshield fluid, and a first aid kit.

Of course, while you’re preparing, why not consider riding out the season in a new Hyundai Santa Fe? At Country Hills Hyundai we’re here to answer all your questions, and have a huge selection of new and used vehicles for you to browse. Stop by 2307 Country Hills Blvd NE in Calgary, give us a call at (403) 984-9696, or book a test drive online now.

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