With our recent snow and cold, there’s no question it’s really winter! Yet, there are still many folks who’ve not taken the steps they should to ensure safe winter driving and to prevent the possibility of incurring expensive winter auto repairs.
Here are six quick tips to get your vehicle ready for winter and ward off the winter auto repair demons!
Check windshield-washer fluid. It’s important to keep your windshield-washer fluid reservoir full using an antifreeze version in the winter. This ensures that your washer pump continues to operate properly and that your reservoir doesn’t freeze and crack which will ultimately lead to replacement. This is especially true if you live in a warmer climate and travel to a colder climate for the holidays. Having the wrong temp point on your washer fluid can easily lead to a cracked reservoir. When your vehicle heads to a colder climate, your washer fluid usually needs to change too.
Check your engine coolant. Be sure to verify that your engine coolant is the right strength and in good condition. You need the proper amount of antifreeze to ensure your coolant doesn’t freeze and cause cracks. At the same time, too much antifreeze can prevent proper circulation and cause heating problems.
Maintain a half full gas tank when temperatures drop. If temperatures are consistently in the 20s or below, be sure to keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel lines from freezing. If you are going to be parking your vehicle for an extended period, it’s wise to fill up your gas tank before leaving it parked. When the temps heads below zero, you might consider using lighter-weight or synthetic engine oil and transmission fluid. This helps reduce wear on these components during extreme temperatures.
Keep a close eye on the road. Winter presents all sorts of challenges that are less problematic at other times of the year. Potholes are one major concern. Watch the road ahead and avoid potholes if you possibly can. Hitting these deep ruts in the road can lead to unbalanced tires, bent rims and axles, and misalignment of tires. Always pay attention to snow and ice that may be sliding off other cars – serious damage can result if they hit your car.
Store a “dig out kit” in your car. It’s all too easy to get stuck after sliding into a snow bank or being trapped in a parking spot after a snowfall. Rather than rocking your car back and forth to get out, dig out instead. Continually rocking your car in forward and reverse can cause significant damage to transmissions – and transmission repairs are expensive. Instead, keep a snow shovel in your car along with some sand or basic cat litter that other you can spread around your tires to give you traction.
Maintain proper tire pressure. Tire pressure decreases by about 1 pound with every 10 degrees the temperature drops. If you haven’t checked your tire pressure lately, it’s likely your pressure is low. Proper tire pressure not only improves fuel economy, but gives you better traction on slippery roads. You can find the correct pounds per square inch (PSI) listed on the driver’s side doorjamb or in your owner’s manual.
Roemer’s Tire Factory in Missoula can help you avoid costly — and avoidable — winter auto repair expenses. Just make an appointment and we’ll help make sure that you can drive safe all winter!