Get Your Car Winter-ready
With winter weather just around the corner (or, in some cases, already here), giving your car a quick check up may just make the difference between trouble-free winter driving and getting stuck until spring. Here are some basics to look for:
1) Have your battery checked! You can bring your car to someplace like Batteries Plus, and they will check your battery and charging system for free. Waiting until after a really cold night is about the worst way to find out your battery is shot!
2) Check the engine fluids:
a) While the car is cold, check the level of anti-freeze/coolant in the collection tank (you may need a flashlight to determine the level; there are usually lines marked on the side of the opaque plastic tank for "Cold" and "Hot"). Add pre-mixed anti-freeze, available at any auto parts store or Walmart, if it is low. Use green fluid if that is in your car already or orange fluid if that is what your car has. DO NOT MIX THE 2 TYPES! Check your owner's manual if you are not sure.
b) Next, check the engine oil level. (Car must be on a relatively level surface.) First, determine where the dipstick for the oil is (you may need to check the manual again, but it is usually easy to identify). Remove the dipstick from the tube; wipe it off with a rag or paper towel, checking to see that the “add” and “full” marks toward the bottom of the dipstick are readable. Now, re-insert the dipstick into the tube, and make sure it is fully seated. Carefully remove it again and check the oil level according to the marks or holes on the stick. Add oil ONLY if it is below the “add” line. Consult your manual for the correct grade of motor oil for your car. (In cold weather, 5W-30 is usually best.)
c) Windshield washer fluid is critical to help clear road spray off of your windshield. If the forecast calls for below-zero temperatures; make sure to buy fluid for those conditions. Under the hood, it may be a visible tank with a snap-off cap, or it may be a filler-neck that leads to a hidden tank (these usually include a plastic dipstick). Fill the reservoir almost to the top; you can never have too much washer fluid!
3) Check your windshield wipers: If they are streaky or the blade is detached from the wiper arm, replace them!
4) Now we need to check the tires. Let’s start with the tread depth:
a) Using a tire tread depth gage (very inexpensive), insert the probe of the gage (nearest the “T” end) into the deepest part of the tread groove. Push the probe into the groove; make sure the probe bottoms-out in the groove. Carefully remove the gage from the tire, and read the depth that is even with the “T”. If it is less than 5/32”, you will need new tires very soon. Additionally, the tread wear should be even across the width of the tire.
b) Next, check the pressure in all 4 tires. Use a tire pressure gage (very inexpensive). First, remove the valve cap from the valve stem. Press the gage firmly against the valve core for about 1 to 2 seconds, then remove the gage from the valve and read it. Compare these readings with the suggested pressure in the owner’s manual (or on the sticker usually found on the body post where the driver’s door opens, or possibly on the door itself). Add air if necessary. NOTE: Most tire dealers will check the wear and pressure for free.
5) Also, try to keep your fuel tank at least half-full in the winter. This will help prevent condensation in the tank from freezing and blocking the fuel lines with ice.
Finally, make sure to carry the following items in your trunk:
a) Spare tire and jack/ lug wrench.
b) Jumper Cables (Even if you don’t know how to use them, someone else will.)
d) First Aid kit.
e) Extra windshield washer fluid.
Once you have checked these basics, you are ready to navigate the snowy roads with the assurance that your car is as prepared for the snow as you are!
on Jan 03, 2010 | Chevrolet Chevy Cars & Trucks