9 Ways to Winterize Your Car

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Last week we
discussed winterizing
your home
. This week we’re giving our cars the same treatment.
If you owned a car before 1980, winterizing your car was a necessary
and often elaborate ritual to keep your car running in tip-top shape
during the cold weather months. Fortunately, modern cars don’t
require the same extensive winterization routines. Auto technology
allows cars to start in the coldest weather without their owners
having to do anything special.

With that said,
there are still a few things you can do before Jack Frost starts
nipping at your windshield to ensure you have a well running vehicle
this winter. Many of the things we list you can do on your own –
a few you might want to leave to a trained mechanic.

9 Ways to
Winterize Your Car

Check your
battery.
Cold weather is tough on your car’s battery. The
chemical reactions required to generate power in a car battery slow
down in extremely cold temperatures. At 5 degrees F, a fully charged
lead-acid battery has only half its rated amp-hour capacity. On
top of that, during cold weather, your engine requires more current
from the battery in order to get the engine started. Combine less
power output with more power requirements and you get a car that
won’t start on a cold winter morning. So have a mechanic run
a battery load test to see if you need to replace the battery. Even
if you don’t, he’ll check for and clean up any corrosion
he finds on your posts and connections. The mechanic might also
fill your battery with distilled water if needed.

Change your
wiper blades and refill your wiper fluid.
You need to see the
road to drive safely, but the build-up of winter precipitation and
salt on your windshield can greatly reduce visibility. Working windshield
wipers and a solid supply of wiper fluid will ensure that you have
a clear line of sight even in the nastiest snowstorm. Wiper blades
are only good for a year. Replace yours if they look frayed or worn.
If your neck of the woods gets hit by hard winters, you might consider
buying wiper blades designed for winter weather. Top off your wiper
fluid reservoir with a brand that has a lower freezing temperature.

Consider
getting snow tires.
If you live in an area that’s covered
with snow for most of the winter, you should swap your regular all-season
tires out for snow tires. Snow tires are made of a softer rubber
than all-season tires which allows them to retain flexibility in
the bitterest of cold. Snow tires also have tread patterns specially
designed to grip into snow and ice. Don’t get the wrong idea
about snow tires. They won’t magically remove the chance of
you slipping and sliding in your car, but they do provide more traction
than the regular variety.

Check your
tire pressure.
If you don’t replace your regular tires
with snow tires, at least keep them properly inflated during the
winter. Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop.
For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tire’s air pressure
will drop about 1psi. A properly inflated tire ensures the best
possible contact between the road and the tires which is essential
for safe traction when driving in wintry conditions.

Read
the rest of the article

November
17, 2010

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