Car Prep To Battle Winter’s Worst

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Many drivers are seeing the worst winter in their lifetimes as howling winds, blowing snow, and sub-zero temperatures grips the country from America’s mid-section to New England. Unless you’re in Southern California or in South Florida, you will likely have to deal with the effects of winter chill sometime over the next two months.

VolvoPlenty of college students will be heading back to class over the next week or two as the spring semester gets underway. For students who plan on driving, particularly for long distances, making sure that your car is ready to handle winter’s worst is essential to help you arrive at your destination safely and on time.

The Car Care Council, which promotes the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign, offers timely seasonal tips to help drivers prepare their cars to handle all kinds of weather conditions including those impacting your driving:

  • Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Since batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely, it’s wise to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
  • Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. The mixture of antifreeze and water is typically 50:50. As a reminder, don’t make the mistake of adding 100 percent antifreeze.
  • Change to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. Drivers in sub-zero driving temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full, decreasing the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
  • Tire pressure should also be checked, as tires will lose pressure when temperatures drop — consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
  • If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
  • Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
  • Allow your car a little more time to warm up when temperatures are below freezing to let the oil in the engine and transmission circulate and get warm.
  • If you live in a place with especially severe winter conditions, consider using cold weather washer fluid and special winter windshield blades.

There are a few more points drivers should consider before heading back to college this semester:

Your car insurance policy – does it covering towing in the event that you get stuck? If not, make sure that your car has auto club or similar coverage for road emergencies. While you’re reviewing your policy, check to make sure that it is paid up, currently reflects your needed coverage levels, and a copy of your insurance card is kept in the glove box or other safe place.

Finally, add contact numbers for your auto insurer and auto club to your cell phone’s directory. In the event that you are in an accident or need assistance, you can make a quick call without fumbling around for a phone number.

Source: Car Care Council

Photo Credit: Michal Zacharzewski, SXC

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Categories: Campus Cars