Winter is hard on your vehicle, and hard on you, too. Make it a little bit easier by following our winter car maintenance tips so that you’re prepared for when the temperature drops.
Things, like keeping an emergency kit in your car and making sure that your car battery is in good condition, can be more than helpful-they can save your life if you find yourself stranded in sub-zero conditions.
If you want to be completely confident, get a winter car maintenance check at Mississauga Kia and we’ll make sure your vehicle is totally reliable. Book your appointment online or phone our service department.
1. Keep a Winter Emergency Car Safety Kit
Your winter car safety kit should include a variety of items to keep you warm and dry in case of an emergency, as well as spare car parts and fluids to help in case of a break down.
- Extra winter gloves
- Warm blanket
- Winter boots
- First aid kit
- Water bottles
- Hand/foot warmers
- Emergency Candles and lighter or waterproof matches
- Flash Light
- Thick socks
For Your Car
- Engine oil
- Windshield washer fluid
- Ice scraper
- Engine coolant
- Jumper cables
- Snack bars
Extra drive belts and tool kit including common sockets, screwdrivers, and pliers (if you’re mechanically-inclined).
2. Make Sure Your Four-Wheel Drive or All-Wheel-Drive Works
If your vehicle is equipped with all-wheel-drive (AWD) or four-wheel-drive, ensure that the system is working properly before the snow hits. Be sure you understand how to engage the 4WD system on your vehicle if it needs a switch to engage. Keep in mind that an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive system will improve traction on acceleration, but not when you’re braking. Remember to drive at a safe speed for the conditions.
3. Check the Belts and Hoses
Pop the hood and look at your belts and hoses. The most important hoses are your upper and lower radiator hoses. On a cool engine, squeeze them with your hands to make sure they are firm and not overly soft or pliable. Look for cracks or leaking around your hoses as well. Take a close look at your belts for cracks. Winter can be hard on rubber belts, so be sure to replace anything that looks questionable otherwise you may be waiting for a tow truck on the road.
4. Replace Windshield Wipers and Wiper Fluid
Winter visibility is important for safety. Make sure that your windshield wipers are up to the job. It’s generally a good idea to replace your wipers every 6 to 12 months. The rubber on your wipers will deteriorate over time, and you will likely notice when they no longer efficiently clear away mud, snow, and water. Make a habit of clearing out any snow from above or below the wipers, as the weight of the snow can damage the mechanism over time. Keeping your wiper fluid topped up is also a good habit as fluid can assist in breaking up snow and ice on the windshield. During the winter you should make sure to have a spare gallon of washer fluid in your truck in case you run low. It can make the difference between a safe journey and a dangerous one.
5. Check Your Defrosting and Heating Units
It can get scary when you’re driving and the whole windshield fogs up. While your experience may not be as dramatic as this, it’s still important to make sure that your heater and window defroster are working properly so that you get the best visibility on cold mornings. If you’re having problems with your car’s defroster, you should take it to a mechanic. They will check your car for air leaks around the seals of the doors and windows as well as the operation of your heater.
6. Keep Your Gas Tank Full
It’s a good idea to keep your fuel tank topped up during the winter. For one, if you find yourself stranded you will have enough fuel to keep your car warn and engine running. Secondly, running your car with low fuel in winter can cause condensation to form in your tank that can find their way into your gas and cause a number of problems by blocking fuel flow to the engine.
7. Put in the Right Amount of Antifreeze
It’s important that you have the correct ratio of antifreeze to water in your engine’s coolant. Antifreeze not only protects your radiator and water pump from corrosion but also helps to keep your fluids from freezing up in very low temperatures. Be sure that your vehicle is using a coolant that won’t freeze under the temperatures you plan to be operating your vehicle at. It’s also important to keep an eye on the level of coolant in your engine as too much or too little can cause problems.
8. Check Your Oil and Oil Viscosity
If you’ve ever tried to pour cold oil, you’ll know what your engine is going through in the winter months. It’s important to use lower viscosity oil for extremely cold weather. Most modern oils are multi-weight. For example, a 5w30 oil will have a weight of “5” at cold temperatures, and increase to “30” once the engine is hot. These oils are optimal for winter, as your engine gets the lower viscosity it needs for easy cold starts as well as the higher viscosity required for proper lubrication once it’s warmed up. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to determine the proper viscosity of oil for your vehicle based on temperature. It’s also a good idea to change your oil more often in harsh winter conditions. Consult your owner’s manual for oil change intervals as well.
9. Check Your Battery
On average, a car battery will last from three to five years. Even if your battery isn’t that old, it’s still worth getting it checked out before the winter hits. There’s nothing worse than going out on a cold morning to find that your car won’t start. We can easily test your battery during your next service appointment at Mississauga Kia.
10. Check Your Tire Pressure and Consider Snow Tires
Wet or icy roads can cause dangerous accidents in the winter, so it is very important to make sure your tires are equipped to handle adverse weather conditions. Snow tires offer improved traction, braking and control but you do choose to use regular tires on your car, check the air pressure on each tire as deflated tires close up the tread and can significantly decrease traction, increasing the likelihood of sliding on icy patches.