Cars, like individuals, don’t operate as well in cold weather. Your vehicle doesn’t like it anymore than you. because most employers disapprove hibernating, we’ve compiled a listing of precautions to extend the odds of your vehicle functioning in extreme or unseasonable cold.
If you don’t have time to go to the mechanic, there are some things you can do on your own to optimize your vehicle’s performance.
Change the battery. Mechanics suggest changing it every three years, although you may get away with five years, depending on how much you drive and the way you drive. If you see a mechanic, have him or her check the battery and replace the spark plugs.
Make sure the cables don’t seem to be loose on the battery. With the engine off, see if the cables will slip free from the battery nodes. Don’t yank, however be firm. Tightening the nut is straightforward to do and might prevent from a mid-drive battery loss that needs you to get out of the vehicle and take off your gloves.
Check for corrosion on the battery terminals. If there’s a white powder around the nodes or the clamps then that would be proof of corrosion. If you can’t get a brand new battery, then at a minimum, clean the nodes and clamps with baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Take off each of the cables, clean the nodes and clamps, then dry them and connect and tighten the cables back to the battery.
Under the hood:
While you’re working under the hood, it’s a good plan to check the condition of your serpentine belt. It’s the massive one that’s now visible at the front of the engine. The visible, or back side, has grooves sort of like a tire. If they’re cracked or worn, then it’d be time to think about changing it to make sure it doesn’t snap in the extreme cold weather.
Fill your fluids:
Spend a buck and buy a “winter blend” form of windscreen wiper fluid. Winter blends have a bigger concentration of alcohol and less water, therefore less chance to freeze. You’ll additionally want to obtain wiper fluid that consists of deicer formula that may help take away the frost on the screen.
Fill your antifreeze. If it hasn’t been flushed for a few years, then it probably could use it. Green-colored liquid is that the most common; whichever color you decide on, don’t combine colors. coolant and antifreeze are interchangeable terms. Coolant is usually sold premixed, that is it’s 50% water, 50% antifreeze. Antifreeze may be pure and it needs to be mixed with water. Check the bottle and it will tell you.
Check your oil. If it’s due for a change, consider refilling it with a lower viscosity oil. On the bottle it lists two numbers, or grades. The first is for low temperature viscosity, the second for high temperature. 10W-30 is a common designation. The higher the number, the more viscous or thick it is and the less fluid it is especially in cold temps. So you might want to consider 5W-20 or-30. That ‘W’ stands for winter, according to Valvoline and other sources.
Visibility is vital in all varieties of driving, however winter conditions will limit visibility, and not simply because of your faux-fur hood. If your blades do a mediocore job with the snow, it’s going to get a lot worse with the freeze. Winter wipers do a great job of getting rid of any moisture and can be had for under $20 for the set. There are special wiper blades for the winter months that greatly improve visibility over the normal wiper blades.
Having the proper tire pressure is crucial for correct handling. A temperature change of ten degrees will cause a ten percent reduction of air in tires. Therefore tire pressure may be affected from day to nighttime temperatures. Check the optimum tire pressure of your vehicle on the label within the driver’s door frame or within the owner’s manual. DON’T USE THE PSI on the TIRE! That’s max capability for the tire, not for your car’s specific load.
Additional preventative measures:
Some mechanics advocate adding a can of Heet or different fuel-line liquid to the gas tank to eliminate water from the fuel lines. If your fuel lines are already frozen this won’t fix your issue.
I would recommend that you purchase an emergency kit with jumper cables, care kit, flares, battery power-driven air compressor and different things which will stop a minor inconvenience from turning into a serious problem.
Check the clarity of all of your lights. If your headlights are all fogged or smoked up, contemplate cleaning them with tooth paste or headlight cleaning products. I haven’t tried this but I hear the results are great.
Weather conditions are variable, and all cars handle them a bit differently, so as a car owner you have a responsibility to know your car. While this may not be legally advisable or practical in the current driving climate, consider finding a parking lot with no obstruction and practicing turns and braking in the conditions. Find out how the car reacts to your driving and adjust your driving accordingly. It shouldn’t be fun. Avoid doing donuts, but practice fishtailing to teach yourself how not to overcompensate by wrenching the wheel too far one way or the other. What level of acceleration might cause a spin out, how does the car turn in snow—all these things can be researched at minimal speeds.
Practice skids. If you’re in a skid, take it easy, don’t slam the brake; turn the wheel in the direction you want the vehicle to face, which you may have to do several times in a skid to straighten out. The most important thing is don’t freak out.
Car Not Starting:
The most common winter car problem is the battery not starting. How to prevent it if you’ve taken the preventative steps outlined above?
The number one thing you should do for the night is shut off all accessories—the heat, radio, interior lights—any power source that could be a drain for the battery.
If you don’t have access to a garage, try parking with the hood as near a building as possible to be shielded from the wind. Also, buildings are warmer than out in the open, and you’ll be warmer too.
You could go crazy and detach the battery and bring it inside with you every night, like a cat or something, but that’s pretty inconvenient, especially since you’ll have to reattach it in the equally cold morning.
You could make a battery snuggie overnight and cover the battery in a blanket, or even the entire hood, or buy a protective plastic sheet or tarp from an auto parts store. Just make sure you remember to take it off in the morning. You want the car warm, not on fire.
If the car doesn’t start after 15-20 seconds of trying, let the car sit for 2 minutes before trying again.
If you need a jump, please be careful. Check your owner’s manual at the very least or Youtube. Our rule is red to dead, black to ground. Connect the red cable to the positive node on the live battery, and then connect it to the dead node; then connect the black or negative to the live node and ground it on a piece of metal on the hood frame of the dead car. Let it run for two minutes, then give the dead car a start. Let it run a bit. Then reverse the process for removing the cables. Just don’t let the clamps touch; the spark can be shocking.
Letting the car warm up is a comfort more for us than the car. Best practice is to start the car, then drive very simply until the oil gets heated. It’ll heat faster driving at slow speeds without sudden acceleration than just idling in your drive. In extreme cold, however, many professionals recommend idling for a minute or two. Idling for 10-15 minutes, as Midwesterners are prone to do, could dilute the oil with unburned fuel, resulting in increased engine wear. It also wastes gas.
Keep the front defroster cranked.
Clear all snow and ice from windshields and lights.
If wiper fluid isn’t squirting and the reservoir is full, then you might need to replace the check valve. It’s a valve in the washer line to keep fluid in the lines. If it’s broke, then the fluid goes back into the reservoir and it might suck in snow or ice thru the nozzle into the line.
Keeping the gas tank at half filled can help prevent a fuel line freeze; so can that fuel-line antifreeze mentioned earlier. Also, if you happen to get stuck, having a half tank of fuel allows you to continue to run the vehicle and keep you warm until help arrives.
Shooting WD-40 into the locks can help prevent them from freezing overnight. Some people prefer graphite but that’s way more messy work. Also, keeping the door’s gaskets lubed with silicone or WD can keep the door from freezing to the frame. Consider buying a deicer and keeping it handy.
Hopefully you have found some of these tips helpful and remember to stay safe and stay warm.