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How should you prepare your car for winter?

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2009-02-22 12:19:09
2009-02-22 12:19:09

Here are some tips for how to prepare your automobile for winter, i.e. "winterize your car." Some of these tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require an auto technician. Engine Performance -- Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters -- air, fuel, PCV, etc. Fuel -- Put a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a gas tank which is kept filled helps keep moisture from forming. Oil -- Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual; more frequent changes (every 3,000 miles) should be made if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. Remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses should be checked by a pro. Windshield Wipers -- Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent; you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper. Heater/Defroster -- The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Battery -- The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Lights -- Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Exhaust System -- Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly. Tires -- Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Let the tires "cool down" before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition. Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box. If you live in Florida, have your a/c checked. If you live in Buffalo, check your heat, wipers, and tires. You should be keeping up on the maintenance so you shouldn't need to worry about that (coolant flush, transmission service, tune up, etc.). Since you don't own a lift, pay an independent garage to look the car over to see what the shape of the car is in. It would be wise to lube your locks and hinges, hood release, clean off your gaskets around the doors and silicone them. Use some RAIN-X on the windshield, coat your fancy wheels with wax, (don't wipe off till spring), replace the battery if it is five years old. Or if you feel less energetic, just tell the car "It won't be that bad"! Get your coolant mixture right. It may be a good idea to have your radiator flushed out and add a 50/50 mix of water and coolant. Some parts of USA are different depending on how cool your area gets.

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