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How To Get Your Vehicle Ready For Winter

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On: Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 9:22AM | By: Bill Wilson

How To Get Your Vehicle Ready For Winter

Labor Day us almost upon us, and some parts of the country are already feeling the first cool breezes of fall. Autumn is a great time for raking leaves, getting ready for the holidays, and enjoying the spectacular beauty of the season. It’s also perfect for getting your car or truck ready for the coming winter. Here’s a look at how to make sure your vehicle runs trouble-free throughout the cold months ahead.

Clean it up
Clean your car inside and out before winter gets here. You should do this for two reasons:

1. Chances are good that you won’t want to after the temps drop.

2. Winter brings with it snow, ice, road salt, and other hazards to your car’s finish.

So give the interior and exterior a good going over while the weather is mild. Replace carpeted floor mats with rubberized ones, as you’re more likely to have wet or dirty shoes in winter than in summer. Top the cleaning job off with a good wash and wax to guard the paint from the elements.

Check your battery out
Wintertime places a lot more stress on your car’s electrical system. Cold starts are harder, wipers struggle to remove snow and ice, and heaters and defrosters get used quite a bit. So make sure your battery is up to the added work load. Here’s how to do it.

1. With the engine off, have someone turn on the headlights while you watch them, preferably at night. Then have your helper turn the key. If the lights get brighter when the engine cranks, then your battery is probably past its prime.

2. Check the charge with a voltmeter or multimeter. The voltage should be at least 12.4 V. If it’s less, then it’s not holding as much charge as it should.

Any good mechanic will be able to run these tests, if you don’t feel comfortable doing so yourself. If in doubt about your battery it’s better to replace it before dropping temperatures put it under additional stress.

Look at your coolant
A good antifreeze is essential to making it through winter in all but the warmest parts of the country. Make sure it’s up to recommended levels, and also check on whether the water/coolant mix is at the ratio recommended in your owner’s manual. You can do this yourself with a bulb gauge or have a mechanic do it for you. For most vehicles, a 50/50 mix is fine for year-round driving.

Examine your tires
Make sure the tread depth is within an acceptable range. Any signs of damage, such as scalloping or uneven wear, should be checked out by a tire shop right away. Depending on what part of the country you live in, you might want to invest in chains or snow tires.

Other things to look for
1. Inspect your belts and hoses, and windshield wipers. Replace if necessary.

2. Make sure your turn signals, brake lights, and headlights function correctly.

3. Stock your vehicle with winter gear like ice scrapers, a snow brush, and some de-icing spray compound.

4. You might also want to include a first aid kit, some extra food, and a blanket or two, just in case you find yourself stranded for a time.

By taking these basic precautions, you can help to ensure that you’ll make it through the coming winter safe and sound. Good luck and happy driving!

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