How To Maintain Your Car In The Winter
Between the fridgid temperature and the rough roads, winter can be tough on vehicles. We want to help you prepare your vehicle to prevent potential problems.
Check the condition of your radiator anifreeze
- Antifreeze should be changed periodically, just like engine oil. Over time it loses its ability to dissipate heat in order to prevent freezing at low temperatures. And then it can become corrosive to your water pump, hoses and engine block.
- Regular antifreeze (usually green colour) should be changed every 2 years. Extended life antifreeze (usually orange or pink colour) should be changed every 5 years.
- If you’re not sure of the condition or age of your antifreeze, you should test it with an antifreeze tester. This will tell you the ratio of water to antifreeze. If you’ve got too much water, your fluid could freeze inside the engine block and heads. Fluid expands when it freezes – even to the point of cracking your engine. That’s one costly repair you want to avoid. Also be aware that too much antifreeze means you’ll lose the heat dissipation that water provides. This could overheat your engine and cause another costly repair.
- Most cars require a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze, but check with your vehicle’s owners manual to be sure. If you need to change the antifreeze, be sure to flush the cooling system as well.
- Coolant System Flush & Water Pump.
Change your thermostat
Periodically changing your thermostat can help avoid a number of problems. But when it comes to winter, the main concern is heat. A thermostat that sticks closed will reduce coolant flow, preventing heat from being blown into the cabin of the car. It will also cause the engine to overheat. On the other hand, a thermostat that sticks open will always let coolant flow. This reduces the amount of heat in the cabin because the engine never receives the proper operating temperature. So think about changing it for the winter season.
- Follow your upper radiator hose to the engine. On most cars, this hose connects to the thermostat housing.
- Undo the bolts holding the housing down, and then remove the old thermostat.
IMPORTANT - Be sure to use proper torque settings on all bolts.
- Clean off all gasket surfaces, and replace any blown gaskets.
- Install the new thermostat, and reinstall the thermostat housing.
Switch to a thinner oil
Unless you use synthetic oil, consider using a thinner oil for the winter, like 5W30. Thinner oil is easier for your oil pump to pump through the engine on the cold winter mornings. Or you can switch to a synthetic oil. It offers better flowing properties in extreme cold and heat. You should also do the same for your drivetrain differentials.
Don't forget a lock de-icer
This will keep your locks from feezing so make sure you use it before the freezing temperature come.
TIP: Keep a bottle of lock de-icer in your home as well as one at work. Don't keep it in your car, it won't be any help if your locks are frozen.
Fill up with winter washer fluid
Make sure you switch to a winter washer fluid before it freezes. This will prevent your washer fluid container from freezing and cracking.
How are your wiper blades?
Check to make sure your wiper blades aren't worns out, chattering or separating. A new set of winter wiper blades or even all season premium blades will keep your vision clear when it's freezing out.
Use gas line antifreeze or diesel anti-gel
By using gas line antifreeze, you can avoid frozen fuel lines and trouble starting your car. These problems often occur on days with temperature swings (warmer days, freezing nights). Days like this cause condensation in your fuel tank, and the resulting water in your lines then freezes. Gas line antifreeze helps the water and fuel mix together to avoid freezing. Diesel anti-gel is an additive for diesel powered cars and trucks that helps keep the fuel from "gelling" as the temperature drops.
Frozen doors and windows
To avoid being stuck out in the cold, spray a silicone based spray on the rubber around doors and windows.
The block heater wams the engine to increase chances of it starting as well as warming up the vehicle faster than it normally would in the winter. It is a heating element that often sits on the side of your engine block and heats the antifreeze. Don't forget an extension cord to plug in at home or the office.