10 Quick Tips for Car Care for Cold Winter Weather
With this incoming cold weather, one of our staff members, Amanda Alexander, who worked in the car industry for 15 years, shares her top 10 advice tips that vehicle service advisors give to their customers:
Get your battery checked. The number one symptom we see with cold weather is vehicles not starting in the morning. Car manufacturers recommend changing a car battery every 3 years, so if your battery is older than that, make a quick trip to a local auto parts store or your garage to have your battery checked. When checking it, make sure the cables are not loose and there is no visible white powder (corrosion) around the positive and negative connectors. Another tip is to drive your vehicle today for at least 15-30 minutes to get your vehicles’ battery charged up and ready to take a hit with a cold morning start. If your vehicle doesn’t start the first time, wait about a minute and attempt it again. If the vehicle almost starts, then repeat again after another minute. If on the second attempt the vehicle just clicks but nothing happens, most likely the battery has completely failed. Don’t make more than 5 attempts to start your vehicle because this can cause wear on your starter.
Fill your gas tank to at least half full. If the gas tank is less than that, it may be possible for the gas to freeze in frigid conditions. If you think this may have happened, visit a local parts store and get a fuel additive to add to your tank and get some gas to fill up your tank. Wait at least one hour and then try to start your car again.
Allow your vehicle to properly warm up. This most common premature wear on a vehicle is not allowing the vehicle to properly warm up in cold weather. From your windshield, power mechanisms that are cold and stiff, to all of the fluids in your vehicle that can affect your performance; in general we suggest to allow at least 15 minutes of warm-up time before your drive your vehicle in the Winter.
Make sure your antifreeze is the winter type and ensure it’s filled to the correct limit. Most Vehicle Manufactures Garages check this as part of their service, but if you are a do it yourself, or take it to other types of garages for just an “oil change”, they may not check this.
Check your oil. If your vehicle is due for an oil change, it may be running lower on oil (oil consumption can be up to 3 quarts of oil depending on the type of vehicle). Check your oil when the vehicle is cold and if you find it low on oil, top it off with the type of oil your vehicle takes (usually noted on the oil cap), but do not OVERFILL, this can be hard on your vehicle’s engine too. If you are not sure on how to do this, visit an auto parts store, they are usually pretty handy or visit your garage that regularly cares for your vehicle.
Wipers– DO NOT EVER turn on your wipers when your vehicle is cold. If they are frozen to your windshield, it can burn out your wiper motor, tear your wiper blades or best case scenario, cause premature wear to your motor and your blades. Before you turn on your wipers, let your vehicle warm up for at least 15 minutes, then pull the wiper blades off of the windshield. If there is ice or snow built up on the blades, gently clean them off before turning them on.
Tire pressure – Cold air deflates your tire pressure. A temperature change can adjust your tire pressures by 10 psi which is huge for handling performance and tire wear. To check your PSI – check your vehicle’s door frame or the owner’s manual. To fill up with air, visit the local garage that you use (they shouldn’t charge for this type of service) or visit a gas station to do it yourself.
Frozen windshield, door handles, and power windows– NEVER use warm water to unfreeze your vehicle, it can crack your windshield or make matters worse. The best method is to allow your vehicle a long good warm up, or if you are in a rush, spray your windows with equal parts of vinegar and cold water solution.
Depletion of gas mileage performance – If you are a gas mileage watcher – be prepared to see it drop. This is especially true for Hybrid vehicle owners. Car manufacturers are flooded with calls during the cold weather with gas mileage concerns. This is completely normal for winter weather driving. Gas mileage can be reduced up to 20% in very frigid weather conditions.
Allow yourself more time in the mornings. Get up 15 minutes earlier on a cold morning to allow you and your vehicle some time to adapt to the cold weather. Layer up and wear proper footwear that can grip the brake and gas pedal without slipping. Watch the surroundings of your vehicle when cleaning it off. Surfaces can ice up and a lot of slip and falls happen during times when people are cleaning off their vehicles. If you have some salt, salt directly around your vehicle before you start cleaning it off.