Preparing your vehicle for winter
There is no other season that can leave you out in the cold with a broken car like winter. We don’t often think about the consequences of being stranded until it’s too late. But this time of year can be devastating to both youand your vehicle. Following a few guidelines, you and your local mechanic can protect you from the elements of a harsh winter.
With so many conveniences on today’s vehicles, you often take for granted their dependability. For instance, the key fob gets you in and out of your car day after day, year in and year out. Then one cold morning it fails and you are faced with using your door key, only to realize that it hasn’t been used since the day you bought it. So, you go to the passenger side of the vehicle only to be surprised to find that there is no key hole! What to do. We recommend you replace your key fob batteries if the batteries are more than 4 years old and you notice that you must be closer to the vehicle in order to get it to function properly. Lubricate the door lock with a lock antifreeze lubricant and make sure that all the keys you own for this vehicle work properly.
Your electrical system is KING. An average of 30 computers depend on your battery providing a good, clean electrical supply. Batteries seldom give a warning before they fail and extreme cold reduces their total effectiveness by 50%. Thus a weak battery becomes a huge liability. However, batteries can be stressed tested to determine their life expectance by verifying the cold cranking output. Therefore, the battery must be health and the cables clean and tight. It should also be noted that the battery cable ends must not be the universal types. For more information, read my article on universal battery cables.
Note: GM side post battery cable ends are known to loosen up when the temperatures drop, creating a weak battery symptom, verify that they are snug.
Antifreeze may be clean, green and provide a good freeze protection (-35F) but more importantly it must be balanced. This can do more damaged to the cooling system then anything else. Check the pH value to determine if the antifreeze has gone sour and is wreaking havoc on vital system components. Also keep in mind to follow the advise on overheating.
Tire pressures are especially important during the winter months, because properly inflated tires assure the best traction on wet payment. But today’s vehicles are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitors (TPM) sensors. They now warn the driver when tire pressures fall below 10%. Dramatic temperature changes can drop pressures more then 10% on any given day. Remember tire pressures changes 1 pound for every 10 degrees. So, if it is 70 degrees one day and the next day it drops to 30, you are more than the 10% rating and your TPMS light will be on. Inflating your tires with Nitrogen will solve this problem plus increase the remaining tire life by 30%. Thread depth.
Brakes are important and should be checked but it is tires that stop the car. Brakes only stop the tires. So, it is important that your tires have plenty of thread depth. A simple check is using a quarter.