6 Tips to Prepare Your Car for the Winter - Fixd Review Car Diagnostic Tool
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6 Tips to Prepare Your Car for the Winter

Winter weather means that you’ll need to take special care of your vehicle. The cold weather causes your tires to deflate, fluids to thicken and can even conceal some small leaks. Preparing for the winter weather is the absolute best thing you can do this winter.

But how do you prepare your car for the winter?

It’s a delicate process.

We’ll cover most of the basics so that your vehicle can run smoothly all winter long.

1. Basic Oil Changes Are a Start

Your oil should be changed properly. The exact time when you have your oil changed will depend on your vehicle. There was a time when people were told to change their oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months.

I just had synthetic oil put in my vehicle, and I don’t have to have the oil changed for 8,000 miles or so.

If you’re due for an oil change soon, you’ll want to do a few things:

  • Locate your owner’s manual and look for the viscosity recommended in winter
  • Change your oil as needed

Viscosity is the thickness of your oil, and since the cold weather will thicken the oil, you’ll often want a thinner oil in your engine. Thinner oils will be best in freezing temperatures, but make sure to check with your manual to put the right oil in your vehicle.

Sometimes, your vehicle won’t need an oil change at all.

2. Install a Diagnostic Device

Winter means that you’ll have more car issues arise. A good way to make sure that your vehicle is properly maintained is to have it diagnosed often. The problem is that this is too costly if you go to the mechanic.

A lot of mechanics will ask you to put your vehicle on an advanced computer that costs hundreds of dollars.

Fixd is a great alternative that allows you to read error codes, provides maintenance reminders and even tells you the severity of your vehicle’s problems. When you install Fixd, you’re making a conscious effort to make sure that you can read your vehicle’s error codes.

It’s a device that saves you money and offers a smooth ride all winter long – if you adhere to the device’s warnings and notifications.

3. Check and Change Fluids Accordingly

Your vehicle’s fluids are a major point of issues during the winter. Instead of putting all of the fluid changes into different points, I think it’s best to list the changes you should be making. A few of the key fluid checks and changes you need to be making include:

  • Engine Coolant. Your engine coolant, or antifreeze, ought to be checked and replaced. A major issue is the ratio of coolant to water. The ideal ratio should be 60% coolant to 40% water. In the warmer months, it’s often a 50%/50% ratio.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid. Windshield washer fluid will freeze, so the trick to eliminate this freezing is to fill the fluid with a washer fluid that includes an antifreeze solution.
  • Fuel. Your vehicle’s fuel counts as a liquid, and if you don’t have enough fuel, you may have condensation build-up that will drip into the fuel and potentially freeze, causing it to block the flow of gas. It’s recommended that you keep your gas tank ¼ to ½ full to eliminate this risk.

These are the basics. Transmission fluid is often not a concern, and some mechanics don’t even recommend changing your transmission fluid ever. Thankfully, this fluid only needs to be changed at very high mileage intervals, such as 100,000 – 150,000 miles.

4. Tire Inspection

If you live in an area with a lot of snow, you can swap out your tires for snow tires if you wish. Some people will even put chains on their tires, but most people don’t have to go to this extent.

What you need to know is that your tire’s PSI will drop with the weather.

A 30-degree dip in outside temperature can cause your tire’s PSI levels to fall by 3. There are few things you’ll want to do to prepare for the colder weather:

  • Check tire wear and replace as needed
  • Check tire pressure and fill in accordance to the measurements on your doorjamb

Properly inflated tires will allow your vehicle to grip the road better and will also promote proper gas mileage.

5. Battery Maintenance

There is another common issue you’ll hear when people go to start their cars. Cranking will occur because the cold weather reduces your battery’s capacity, too. You’ll want to pop your hood and inspect:

  • Battery cables
  • Battery terminals

Cables need to be checked for cracks and breaks which could lower the battery’s connection to the terminals. Check your battery’s levels, too. You can use a hydrometer, or you can look to see if the battery comes with a built-in gauge.

If your battery is several years old (3 – 5), it may need to be replaced.

Battery life is limited, so if your battery is already having issues turning over, it’s a good idea to replace the battery before the cold weather comes.

6. Basic Tune-Up

Vehicles need routine tune-ups to keep them running well. If your vehicle is in need of a tune-up, usually performed every 30,000 miles, it may be a good idea to have the tune-up done before winter.

Even if you still have a thousand or two thousand miles to go before the tune-up is needed, it might be good to have the tune-up done a little earlier with winter approaching.

When a tune-up is performed, your mechanic will check your vehicle’s main components to ensure they’re running optimally, including:

  • Belts
  • Brakes
  • Fuel filter
  • Emission filter
  • Air filter
  • PCV valve
  • Wiring
  • Spark plugs
  • Hoses

Your vehicle’s main components will be checked and changed as needed. You’ll also have your fluids checked to ensure that your vehicle is ready for the cold weather that is approaching.

Also take a look at the DIY maintenance tips we recommend to extend your vehicle’s lifespan. These are general tips that will hold true in any season.

November 14, 2017

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