It’s important to winterize your car–for both the safety of your family and to save money! Unprepared cars can break down, costing your family more than you bargained for! Check out these six simple tips to cold-weather vehicle safety!
We had our first “big” snow of the season this past weekend. And when I say “big,” I mean we had between six to seven inches.
Don’t laugh, northern neighbors! This snow is a really big deal to us Southerners!
In all seriousness, snow and ice are no joke where I live in North Carolina. Since we only get it a few times per year, town shuts down.
But when we do have to get out, it’s best to be prepared.
My dad was (and still is, at nearly 65!) a staunch advocate of making sure you winterize your car and keep your vehicles prepared and ready to go in case of any natural disaster or unusual weather patterns. He always made sure our family cars had fresh oil and were well-stocked in case of an emergency.
Since he was a hospital administrator, he didn’t get to stay home on snow days. He had to get to work rain, sleet, snow, or ice–and he had a 45-minute commute each way!
In fact, our family still laughs about the year good ‘ol dad was the only car on the interstate when the news showed clips of the road conditions during a snowstorm.
My dad taught me that even if something doesn’t happen frequently, it pays off to prepare.
With that in mind, here are 6 simple tips to winterize your car.
Winterize Your Car
1. Add Antifreeze
This is something my dad is adamant about. Antifreeze can help protect your engine from extreme temperatures and help keep fluids from freezing, as cold sets in.
My dad recommends keeping antifreeze stocked in the back of your car all year long, so you don’t forget to add it to your trunk once winter starts.
2. Check Tires
Have you ever noticed a little warning light come on your car every time the weather turns cold? It does in mine! This alarmed me the first few times it happened, but now I know it’s normal.
When temperatures fall, air inside tires contracts and causes the pressure inside to drop, which can make tires susceptible to damage.
Tires are expensive, so we definitely want to do all we can to preserve them.
Will took our tires to get pressurized last week in prep for our weekend “snowstorm”!
I knew what a tire pressure gauge was from an early age because my dad always had one in our glove box. We keep one in our vehicles now as well. This is an easy, affordable way to keep your tires in check all year long.
3. Change Oil
Colder temperatures can cause motor oil to thicken, which can cause starting problems.
Change your oil just before winter to help keep oil flowing easily through your engine.
My dad always changed our oil himself when I was growing up, but we take ours to a local automotive store.
It’s really important to change your oil either every three months or every 3,000 (depending on what kind of oil you use–some can go up to 6,000 miles).
My parents have been able to keep vehicles going strong for many years, and my dad credits his regular oil changes and other maintenance with making this a reality.
Not having to buy a new vehicle every few years really helps save money!
My dad also recommends keeping oil in the back of your car for when it gets low.
4. Wash and Wax
So I had never heard of this one before, but as I was researching for this post, I discovered that Consumer Reports actually recommends waxing your car before winter sets in and keeping it washed all winter long (source)! Who knew?!
Washing and applying a fresh coast of wax before fluctuating temperatures set in can be the first line of defense against ice, salt, sand and slush.
Visiting a car wash is also a great way to get the underbelly of the car clean to avoid rusting, which helps maintain the overall value of the vehicle.
Additionally, washing at a car wash regularly in winter can help keep the windshields, mirrors and lights clean, which is important in ensuring the best possible vision for the driver.
Will said to also get your cars washed after a big snow because you don’t want to keep all of the salt and chemicals from the road on your vehicles!
5. Replace Wipers
If you live in a cold-weather state, you probably already know this tip. Those of us in the South don’t have to necessarily do this every single year, but it’s important to at least check wipers before winter sets in.
As thick snow starts falling, or when rain and water turn to ice, it’s important to have properly fitted wiper blades to keep your windshield clear.
6. Pack an Emergency Kit
This one is SO important! You never know when or where your car will break down. We keep an emergency kit in our car year-round.
To be prepared in case of winter emergencies, keep essential items in your vehicle, like gloves, ice scrapper, shovel, salt or sand, warm clothing and blankets, jumper cables and first-aid kit.