As the fall arrives, it’s time for a driver to put on an old flannel shirt and jeans and get the vehicle ready for the colder weather ahead. A little preparation will be very helpful as they can go a long way to making your winter travels much safer.
The cooling system is usually the most critical and often overlooked part of your vehicle. But you should know that without the proper protection, your coolant can freeze and destroy your engine in the low temperature. The coolant in is a mixture of water and anti-freeze. Its task is to lower the freezing point of the coolant. If the ratio of water to anti-freeze is incorrect, the coolant mixture freezes.
As water is one of those goofy liquids that actually expands as is freezes, it can exert extreme forces on your engine and actually crack the engine block. There is a very simple tool called a Ball-Type Tester which will help you to check your coolant’s freeze point. You should suck up a small portion of coolant into the instrument and count the number of balls that float. Then with the help of the legend on the tool, determine the freezing point. Instead of a Ball-Type Tester you can use testing strips. Dip them into the coolant to check the freezing point. If your coolant is more than 2 years old or you have over 30,000 miles it should be changed despite of its freezing point.
Don’t forget to check the fuel system of your engine. Run a bottle of gas line anti-freeze through the system before snow falls. The gas line anti-freeze absorbs any residual moisture in the system and keeps it from freezing your fuel lines. You can get water in your fuel tank from a bad batch of gasoline at any gas station or a faulty gas cap.
When the engine is protected turn your attention to the tires. Before the winter comes you should check the tread depth and pressure. The pressure in your tires can drop as the temperatures with the temperature. If your tires are getting worn, replace them to get the best traction in the winter months. Consider the possibility of getting an inexpensive set of steel wheels with dedicated snow tires for the winter months. If you use all-season tires be aware that none of them perfect. Running a set of winter tires will give you the best winter traction possible and keep your car on the road.
Your car surface, pain also needs some protection from various salts and chemicals on the road. Always wash your car well, and then cover the entire car with a liberal coat of wax. If you have aluminum wheels, wax them too as this helps to stop pitting and keeps the wheels clean. The crucial mistake people make when washing a car is to not rinse their wash mitt or sponge, or rinsing it in the wash bucket. Make sure you rinse off the sponge or mitt outside the bucket with your hose. This will prevent you from covering your car with the dirt that you just wiped off it from becoming sandpaper and you clean the rest of your car.
A good first aid kit is necessary any time of year, but you should keep something else in your trunk. In dangerous winter travel you will surely need a good ice scraper, bag of salt or sand for traction and a blanket incase you are stranded and need to keep warm. If you have a rear wheel drive vehicle, extra weight in the trunk will help with traction. Put into it a bag of cement or sand and this will give you the needed traction in the winter months.
Have a pleasant and safe driving in any weather.