We know that you love your car and want to see it run smoothly and look gorgeous at all times. But with summer about to end, is your car ready for the colder temperatures and harsh conditions coming our way? Winterizing a car can make the difference between being comfortable or completely miserable while sitting out a storm. So, here’s a complete guide on how to winterize your car in the best way possible.
Why Should You Winterize a Car
There’s no bigger joy for car owners than to take their car out for a ride. To roll down the windows, put their sunglasses on, and just drive through the country on vacation. Or simply commute to work.
The weather is nice, the sky is bright, the temperature feels right, and the car beams in the sun. Your car is shiny, the cooling system works just fine, the roads are clear, and adventure seems to await every time you get inside and start the engine.
A car will usually run really well when the weather is fine and will present few complications. However, once seasons change and we transition from warmer to colder weather, cars will also need to adjust to avoid facing troubles down the road.
What can happen, you wonder? A lot, actually! Ice, snow, and hail can take their toll if you don’t take all the necessary measures. So, it’s extremely important you winterize your car against the colder temperatures and harsh weather conditions ahead.
Are Cars Sensitive To Cold?
Yes! This is why, just as you take steps to protect yourself from the elements by putting on a coat, a hat, and maybe a pair of gloves, your car also needs winter-weather protection.
Many owners don’t know how to winterize their cars properly, leaving their beloved vehicles exposed to the negative effects of the harsh elements out there.
Unfortunately, more often than not, this translates into significant repair costs once spring comes. In some other cases, a lack of proper adjustment to winter temperatures results in serious accidents on the road. Winterizing your car can definitely help you avoid many of these scenarios.
We hope that by the end of this article, you’ll have learned how to winterize a car properly so that you’re prepared for any winter-related issues that cold weather might throw at you: snow, ice, freezing temperatures, and other damaging winter conditions.
How Does Cold Affect Your Car?
Depending on where you live in the US, you may be facing severe low temperatures each winter. Not all places are alike, and some of us can go through the winter without too many adjustments. However, if your area is ‘blessed’ with heavy winters, you may want to learn how to winterize your car accordingly, so everything runs smoothly and you stay in complete safety throughout the cold season.
First and foremost, to avoid most of the nastiness that comes with cold weather, you should always check the weather and road conditions before taking your car on a ride.
If you know the roads will get nasty, it’s wiser to just leave your car at home and use public transportation. If you are already on the road, leave early to make sure you get a parking spot in a safe and comfortable location.
Checking the weather is easier than ever nowadays. You can do this with apps such as Accu Weather or Carrot Weather, websites like theweatherchannel.com, by listening to the radio, or watching the news.
If you wonder what all the stress is about, know there are many ways in which your car will suffer from low temperatures..
Vehicles use quite a few liquids to run well. No matter how expensive or high-quality they are, most of these fluids need a certain temperature range to circulate freely within the inner workings.
Your typical car fluid does have the additives necessary to maintain the integrity of their compositions. Still, some thickness may form during freezing temperatures, causing its flow to slow down.
The most important fluids for your car’s good functioning are the engine oil, the antifreeze, and the transmission fluid. Oil, for one, can get as thick as molasses, and it will be a struggle for the oil pump to circulate it further.
The wiper fluid, although less significant per se, can still cause immense trouble if frozen. If it can’t circulate correctly and clean your windshield, it will result in less visibility — and increased chances for collisions.
Before we go deeper into showing you how to winterize a car, there’s a minimum you can do each winter to make sure you’re driving safely.
To ensure everything is working correctly, we recommend that you start your engine and let it warm up for a couple of minutes before actually starting your drive. Also, make sure to check your fluids before you start your journey, regardless if it’s a 30-minute commute or a 6-hour drive across the country. Your life matters the most.
Part of understanding how to winterize a car involves knowing how to prepare the tires for cold weather. When the temperatures are low outside, your tire pressure will decrease. This, in turn, will lead to poor traction and even tire failure, which can be extremely dangerous.
As soon as the temperatures start to drop, you should check the pressure in the tires and adjust it as needed.
The rubber on the tires may also harden, even on the all-season type of tires. It’s precisely this hardening that loosens the grip of the tires on the road’s surface. This is why it’s incredibly important to know that you can switch the all-season tires with winter tires. This way you’ll reduce this hardening effect and, with it, the chances of road accidents
When the windshield gets frozen and icy, many of us have the tendency to simply turn on the windshield wipers. However, this couldn’t be more harmful. Snow and ice are heavy and harsh and can cause serious harm to the wiper blades.
What you can do instead is start the engine, let the car warm up, and manually remove all the ice before it ruins the wiper blades.
In the end, a lot of these issues can be prevented if you learn how to properly winterize your car
Car batteries are known to suffer a lot during the harsh winter season. Hasn’t it happened to you?
Maybe you were trying to start your car on a cold winter morning, and the engine just wouldn’t start. This happens especially to car batteries that are more than three years old.
The good news is that this issue is not that difficult to correct. Thankfully, you can easily use jumper cables on your battery, and chances are your car will quickly purr again. Of course, there are also battery warmers you can buy online or in most auto parts shops, especially in freezing climates.
To avoid the hassle of having to restart your car battery during an emergency, do whatever you can to keep the battery connections tight, clean, and corrosion-free.
Keep reading to learn how to winterize a car and prevent these issues from ever occurring.
Cold does not directly affect the brake system per se, but can weaken it over time. On icy roads, while the car is sliding and trying to keep the course, a typical driver would brake more than usual, causing extra heat and friction. This, in turn, can cause significant amounts of wear and tear.
Cold Temperature Efficiency
A lot of the issues car owners face during wintertime have plenty to do with efficiency.
Every time you’re trying to warm up your car, the cold temperature outside creates a high gas to air ratio, causing the car to use more fuel. The cold can also take a toll on the gas tank. Ultimately, the longer the engine stays cold, the less efficiently it will run.
This efficiency issue occurs in electric vehicles too, even though these are depicted as unbreakable machines. So know this, electric cars are fallible too in the face of harsh winter conditions. It takes plenty of resources to keep the cabin warm and the engine running at an optimum operating temperature.
However, sometimes comfort matters more than fuel efficiency. This is why you need to learn how to winterize a car and get more comfort while also having a car that’s better equipped to handle the cold.
What Does Winterizing a Car Mean?
To put it simply, winterizing a car means nothing more than properly equipping your vehicle for snow, ice, slush, and freezing temperatures.
A harsh winter can cause serious damage to your car’s exterior, interior, and inner workings. These damages can threaten your and your loved ones’ safety, which is why it’s important to act before winter sets in.
Is It Necessary To Winterize a Car?
Knowing how to winterize a car is not mandatory, but it is necessary. It can help you stay safe in the face of road dangers stemming from harsh winter conditions, and down the road can help you save money.
By choosing not to winterize your car, you risk having many expensive car parts suffer accelerated wear and tear. Or simply break down long before their time. Then it’s up to you to dig into your savings account and pay an otherwise costly amount to fix something that could’ve been simply prevented.
How Do You Winterize Your Car?
There is no actual manual for winterizing a car, but there are some tips we can share with you for each different section of your car:
- The exterior
- The interior
- The inner workings
If you want to properly winterize your car, you’ll need to consider each one of the aspects mentioned above.
Winterizing The Exterior Of Your Car
Getting the exterior of your car ready for winter means that you’ll need to:
Protect The Paint
A car’s paint is its most beautiful and important exterior feature. Just by looking at your car, you can either get a sense of immense satisfaction or a feeling of disappointment — and it’s all in the paint!
Before anything else, make sure you thoroughly wash your car frequently, using high-quality car soaps. Next, you need to add paint protection.
If you want our point of view and wish to learn how to winterize a car efficiently, know that applying a ceramic coating is the best way to protect your car’s paint against all contaminants.
If you are willing to go the DIY route and save yourself a lot of money, then you can confidently choose Nexgen Ceramic Spray. Its high silicon dioxide composition guarantees protection that’s bound to last four times longer than other similar products on the market.
Replace The Wiper Blades
As said before, wiper blades can get seriously damaged if used frequently during heavy rain, snow, or icy temperatures. Pay a lot of attention to their condition by looking at how they work. If they screech or make any sort of unpleasant noises while operating, it’s time to replace them.
Treat The Windows
When winterizing a car, don’t forget about the windows and make sure you treat them and the windshields with the right kind of product and/or mixture.
What do we mean by this exactly?
For example, if you pour hot water on your windows to defrost, you might end up with a cracked area. If hot water spills get into your car, you risk your entire window locking system breaking down.
This is why we recommend that you create a solution made of one part water and three parts vinegar. Spray this composition on the windows before the temperatures start dropping and let the acidity of the vinegar weaken the buildup of snow and ice.
Check Tire Pressure
During the cold season, make it a habit to check your tire pressure before you head out on the road. Cold temperatures make your tire air pressure decrease ever so slightly, but if left unsupervised, can lead to a disaster.
Switch To Snow Tires
We’ve mentioned this before, but all-season tires are a good idea only up to a point. During winter your car should be equipped with snow tires since they provide increased driving stability and traction.
Winterizing Your Car’s Interior
It’s an unwritten rule that, as a driver, you’ll have to deal with many unexpected scenarios and, unfortunately, these unwanted events typically happen more frequently during winter. That’s why part of knowing how to winterize a car involves being prepared for bad weather and having an emergency kit containing the following:
- Tire patch kit
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Phone charger
- Blankets, water, flashlight
- Tire pressure gauge
- Work or winter gloves
- Coats or jackets
- Oil, coolants, spray lithium grease or silicone, and additives
- Zip ties
- Spare headlights
- Wiper blades
- Duct tape
- A battery bank for charging cell phones
Winterizing a Car’s Inner Workings
When we say winterizing your car’s inner workings, we are referring to its entire mechanical system.
Check The Battery
Before you embark on any journey, be sure to check the performance of your car’s battery. Any service professional can do that for you and recommend solutions to any issue your car’s battery might have.
The freezing point of the water in your radiator will be lowered by using an antifreeze liquid. Make sure that you — or a service professional — add antifreeze to your car’s radiator whenever needed. Remember that the ratio is: one part antifreeze and one part water. This is an absolute must to keep in mind if you want to winterize a car properly.
Check The Thermostat
A car’s thermostat allows the engine coolant to travel through the vehicle and release the much-needed warm air into the cabin. Thermostats can also freeze up in the closed position, so don’t forget to check it as well.
Check The Belts And Hoses
The car’s ability to function properly also depends on the well-being of the belts. Try to schedule a belt and hose inspection every autumn.
Check The Fluids
Ask your mechanic to check the transmission fluid before anything else. It cools the engine, lubricates the gears, and protects the interior metal, among other tasks.
What About The Radiator?
The main way to keep your car’s radiator from freezing is by adding a coolant or antifreeze. To perform this process correctly, drain your radiator every autumn, and refill it with fresh antifreeze to ensure everything runs smoothly.
If the radiator freezes, it can cause a crack in a motor block, which is not only hard to repair but also very expensive — try to avoid this at all costs.
The Takeaway On Winterizing Your Car
All in all, winterizing a car is not a complicated procedure. All you need to do is pay attention to those parts that need a bit of special care before temperatures start dropping.
Whatever needs replacing should be replaced, and whatever needs treating should be treated before winter weather takes its toll on your car.
If you have any questions about this process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll be here to answer any questions and guide you in your process of learning how to winterize your car.
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