Every year I look out of my window and see the snow piled up on the lawn. I see the icicles hanging down from the roof and the wind blowing. I look at the thermometer hanging out there and it says it's 8° below zero. As I sit and look at this winter wonderland I can't help but think.... should I check my car for winter today. Then I say to myself, "Nah, it's too bloody cold out..i'll do it tommorrow."
This year it's going to be different. I'm going to winterize my car today.
Okay, where do we start? The first thing to check is the anti-freeze. Most anti-freezes are an ethylene
based fluid that has a low freezing point when mixed with water and a high boiling point. For this reason it makes an excellent coolant for our vehicles. Most times it is a nice bright green color, but it can be either black or red.
Does it need to be changed? Well, if you didn't change it last winter, you need to change it this winter. Anti-freeze should be changed every two years or 30,000 miles whichever comes first. In addition to ethylene
, anti-freeze has other chemicals that lubricate the water pump and inhibits corrosion in the engine. These chemicals wear out and need to be replaced.
Next is the motor
. Most manufacturers have a summer and winter grade
recommendations. Check your vehicle owners' manual for the recommended winter grade
and change the
to that grade. Winter grade
is a lighter weight to help make cold weather starts easier. Naturally, you need to change the
filter as well.
Now we need to look at the wipers and washers. If you have ever driven on a road that has had a lot of salt dumped on it you will know that a good set of wiper blades and a working windshield washer is essential. It takes about 10 seconds for the spray from the car in front of you to totally cover your windshield. Make sure your washers are in good working order and filled with washer solvent. Most washer solvents are good to about 10 below zero. For most parts of the country this is good enough. For those of us who live in the real cold, we need something that goes a little lower.
Chances are you haven't changed your wiper blades in a while. Check them now and replace if needed...we all need to see the road in front and good wipers are essential.
Have the battery and charging system tested. A weak battery or alternator may get you by in the summer, but they will not handle cold weather when you need extra amps to start a cold engine.
Now for the engine itself. The lower the temperature, the harder it is for the fuel to ignite when starting. If you haven't had a tune-up in a while, now is the time to get one. With a fresh set of spark plugs and new distributor cap, rotor and ignition wires as needed, your chances of your car starting without flooding greatly improve. Look at the belts and hoses as well. Winter driving puts an extra-added strain on the engine. It's one thing to be stuck with a broken belt when it's sunny and 80 degrees out, but a different thing all together when it's -10 degrees and snowing.
lastly...CHECK YOUR TYRES...ensure tread is above 1.6mm (legal) but if you can , go no lower than 2mm.
CHECK YOUR SPARE TYRE NOW!!!!
Prepare for the worst..as a truck driver who was stuck on the m11 for 6 hours two years ago i can testify the need to be prepared. if you can , keep the following in your boot...
2..fully charged torch
3..if you can , take a thermos of hot coffee/tea and some biscuits
5..A fuel can with spare fuel..only use correct type of container and seal tightly.
If you have a mobile phone invest in a car charger.
REMEMBER..COLD KILLS..SO PREPARE FOR YOUR JOURNEY