What Do I Need to do to Winterize my Vehicle?

While maintenance of your vehicle is a year round responsibility, the change of seasons is a critical time to be sure you are up to date on your maintenance and take care of a few winter specific items. Freezing temperatures, salt and sand on the roads, snowy/slushy conditions are just a few of the hazards you encounter each day you get behind the wheel. The last thing you need spoiling your holiday plans is an unnecessary roadside breakdown.

Battery

Starting a vehicle on a zero degree morning takes some major voltage from your battery. If you are experiencing any sluggishness or your battery is more than five years old, replace it with a new one. It’s only a matter of time before your morning schedule is hampered due to a no start. A battery test is available at your local maintenance and repair shop if you want to know how much life is left in your battery. When purchasing a battery, you usually get what you pay for. If you go cheap, you may regret it at the most inconvenient time. A reliable shop will steer you in the right direction and although they may charge for installation, this will include cleaning all your cable connections and the assurance that it is installed correctly. They will also dispose of the old battery in an environmental friendly way, which to me seems worth the price.

Antifreeze

Be Sure Your Antifreeze (coolant) is full and the right mixture. Too much water will cause it to freeze and your car will overheat. A service station or auto mechanic can test the mixture for you. An over the counter test is also available for you DIY’s.

Tires

It doesn’t matter how well your vehicle is running if you don’t have solid contact with the road. Old man winter’s bag of tricks is full of slippery road conditions from piles of slush to feet of snow on roadways and along shoulders. Add to that a hill like Northwoods Boulevard, Glenshire Drive or just your own driveway and you’ve got problems if your tires are not up to par. The legal limit for tire tread when chain controls are up is 6/32 of an inch. In my opinion, anything less than 8/32 (1/4") should be replaced before you become intimate with a ditch, or worse, another vehicle. Stretching your tire usage is just not worth it. Truckee has several reputable tire shops that sell tires specific for our region and weather. Some of these shops will even rotate them for free, so it’s worth staying local.

Wiper Blades

Are you one of those who are constantly rolling down your window to flick your wipers? Time for new blades. It takes a good wiper blade to keep you seeing clearly. Winter blades will cost you more but are worth the extra investment when that 18-wheeler passes you and sprays Interstate 80 sand and muck onto your windshield. Here’s an added tip. Have your repair shop team install the blades to be sure they are fitted and mounted correctly. Nothing is worse than seeing your new wiper blade fly down the road in your review mirror.

Washer Fluid

Always be sure your washer fluid reserve is topped off with a freeze protected washer fluid. It’s not hard to go through ¼ of the reservoir on one trip over the summit. Never use water. It could freeze and may even damage or break the plastic washer pump, which could leave you without washers and be an expensive fix. If you put water in the reservoir this summer, purge the system thoroughly and refill with freeze protected washer fluid.

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Antifreeze