Is Your Car Winter Ready?
The Christmas decorations are away. The temperature is dropping. The realization that winter is here to stay has set in. It’s time to think about if your car is prepared to survive through the winter. By doing just a few simple things, you can make sure that your car runs well all season. Here are First Gear Automotive’s tips for ensuring your car is winter ready and rides into spring issue free.
You wouldn’t expect the same protect from a tee-shirt and a winter jacket in a snow storm. The same is true for your winter tires. They are made specifically for the wet, slushy icy conditions of winter driving. Winter tire tread is deeper and designed to force away snow and sleet. They are also created to handle the low temperatures. All seasons tires can harden in the extreme cold which is dangerous. If you want the safety and benefits that come with winter tires its important that you get all four tires changed. You wouldn’t only wear one shoe, right? First Gear Automotive believes a good set of winter tires is the best defense to keep you and your car safe this winter.
IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE
Keeping up with regular oil changes is important anytime of year, but it is especially important in the winter. Think of oil as the blood of your car, it has a lot of important jobs and without it the car stops working. Oil keeps your engine lubricated, when an engine is poorly lubricated it leads to increased fuel consumption. Oil cools down the engine and helps prevent over heating and friction. Regular oil changes also help your vehicle last longer. In colder temperatures it is harder for cars to start. Regular oil changes will help your car start those mornings when you wish you could just stay in bed. First Gear Automotive recommends getting your oil changed every 3 months/5,000km if you use conventional oil and every 6 months/8,000km if you use synthetic oil.
WIPERS & FLUID
A great set of wipers can keep you safe and eliminate stress while driving in a snow storm. Not being able to see while driving is scary. Installing wipers that are designed to deal with ice and snow can ensure that you can see clearly in any weather. Always make sure that your washer fluid is topped up and that it is designed for cold weather so it doesn’t freeze. Running out of washer fluid mid drive means sticking your head out of the window to see. This is not only dangerous but also freaking freezing! To stay safe & warm this winter, First Gear Automotive suggests topping up your windshield washer fluid every time you fill your gas to keep your car winter ready. When you get an oil change at First Gear we always make sure your washer fluid is topped full.
MR. (ANTI) FREEZE
Anti-freeze (also called coolant) is one of the most important tools for your car to be winter ready. You have to make sure that you have the correct coolant for your vehicle, that it is a good quality and is made for cold temperatures. Your car’s engine has a lot of liquids in it and when liquids freeze they can burst pipes. Antifreeze mixes with the liquids to prevent them from freezing. It is also what powers your heater and defroster so is extremely important in the winter. You want to make sure that you have the right levels of anti-freeze in your car, that there are no leaks in your and check to see if it needs a flush. Unwanted contaminants and debris can build up over time and can cause radiator corrosion, generating rust and scaling. Flushing out the radiator gets rid of the old fluid so this doesn’t happened. First Gear Automotive recommends checking for this at 100,000km. We also check and fill the anti-freeze with each oil change.
START THE CAR!
It is tempting to hibernate in the winter. To stay cozy and not leave the house (especially this year). However, you have to make sure to drive your car in the cold weather. There are some old wives tales floating around that as long as you start the vehicle and let it run for a few minutes that is all you need. This is simply not true, the car needs to go for a drive to warm up all of the parts. Just starting the car is like putting on your workout clothes and then sitting on the couch, it’s a good start but won’t get you the results that you are looking for. First Gear Automotive recommends taking your vehicle for a drive for 10-20 minutes every other day to keep your car in shape over winter.
Car batteries do not like the cold. Cold weather zaps power from your battery like Sebastian Hiram Shaw. Even a fully charged, strong battery will not run at 100% in low temperatures. If your battery is only partially charged it could freeze in cold weather. Did you know that a parked car with the engine off still consumes power and draws from the battery? Make sure your battery is fully charged at the beginning of winter and if you are able to, park in a garage when the temperature drops. Also try to have some patience. When you jump in your car on a frosty day, try to avoid cranking the heat or the tunes right away. Allow the alternator to charge the battery before turning everything on. When you park your car for the night turn everything off to conserve battery power.
LIGHT IT UP
Winter means long, dark days and driving to and from work in the dark. Strong head lights are important for being able to see well, especially if it is freezing rain or snowing. Over time the bulbs dim and need to be replaced. Headlight covers also get covered with grit and grim over time so it’s important to get them cleaned or replaced before heading into winter. Headlights not only help you see better in winter, they help other vehicles see you in snowy conditions. Switching to brighter bulbs for the winter is also a bright idea! First Gear Automotive offers LED headlights for the brightest drive and a clean and polish service for your headlight covers.
KEEP THE PRESSURE
Air expands when heated and contracts when cooled, so as the temperature drops outside, your tires’ inflation pressure is going down. In the winter season this can happened quickly making it extra important to continuously to check your pressure. A tire can be 30% underinflated before you visibly notice it needs air. Under inflated tires will make it harder to control your vehicle on slick roads. First Gear Automotive recommends checking your tire pressure every month to ensure the proper pressure. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch) for your vehicle can be found on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual. Tires with the correct pressure also decrease fuel consumption and prolongs the life of your tires tread.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
We greatly hope that you do not find yourself stranded this winter. It is however, a good idea to make sure that you have a fully stocked emergency kit in your car just in case. Below is a list of what First Gear Automotive recommends in your emergency kit.
Blanket & extra hat, mitts, scarves
LED Road Flares
Good Windshield scraper
First Gear Automotive is here to help with all of your vehicle needs and ensuring that your car is winter ready. We are wishing you a safe and happy winter season.
Www.firstgear.ca (905) 335-3201