Preparing vehicle for winter saves money, helps keep car running


Auto mech students Colleen Boe and Jim Moriarty demonstrate winterizing techniques during class. Readying your vehicle for winter can save time, money and future maintenance.

Kyle Russell, IV Leader staff

The weather outside is currently delightful, but will you and your car be ready when it turns frightful? We all know what a pain it is to drive with snow on the ground but there are ways to help keep you out of the ditch and get from point A to point B safely.
First let’s talk about the obvious, the cars traction ability. Have you ever tried rollerblading on wet pavement as a kid while growing up? If so, then you probably learned pretty quickly that this wasn’t the brightest of ideas. The reason that you slipped as soon as you pushed off is because the wheels on your rollerblades are smooth and had no tread at all. No tread is equivalent to no traction. The same concept can be applied to cars. A good quick tire check that you can do is to stick a penny in the tires tread with Lincoln’s head going down. If Abe’s head is not visible when looking at the penny from tire level, then your tires are in good shape for winter. If you can still see Lincoln’s head showing, than your tires are getting older it may be a good idea to replace them with a new set of all-season tires, and that’s no lie. This test can be used with general tires but will not work on racing tires (highly doubtful that you have them on your car without knowing it). Even if your tires are in good shape, make sure that the pressure in your tires is at the recommended amount. If you need tires be sure to visit your local tire sales store to have a professional recommend  the best tire for your make and model.
The next thing that is vital to making it safely to your destination is your ability to see. The best thing that you can do for this is replace your old wiper blades with new ones. The blades are relatively cheap and are readily available at all auto parts stores and most big retail outfits. This project will cost roughly $25 if you pick up a decent set such as the RainX. This is an easy project that anyone can do . Most wiper blades are on clip based hinges and are easy to replace. Refer to your user manual for the car for the proper wiper blade sizing. RainX also puts out other noteworthy products such as their water repelling sprays and wipes. These windshield treatments cause water to bead up and blow off your windshield with an effect that is similar to a freshly waxed car. These treatments also seem to help with scraping ice off of the windows.
There are just a few other general things that you should take into consideration for a safe trip. Make sure that you keep up to date on your oil changes and also make sure that you are using the correct viscosity (the thickness of the oil known as weight and is labeled as W on the bottle).  A thinner oil is typically used in winter because of it has a lower chance of freezing. While we are on the topic of freezing, check your antifreeze to make that it is at a proper level. Your antifreeze keeps your engine from freezing up in the winter and keeps it from running to hot in the summer. In general check all of your fluids and make sure that your gas tank doesn’t get below a quarter tank.  Some other miscellaneous stuff that should be done to your car is an inspection of your filters, belts, and hoses. Make sure that you have a good battery that is free of corrosion and holds a good charge. The last thing that you want is to be stranded. If you have a rear wheel drive (found in some trucks and most sports cars) make sure that you put several sandbags in the trunk or bed to ensure a bit better grip on the road. You can also keep some carpet samples on you that you can shove under the tires to get you out of a sticky situation.
The most important thing that you can do is to have an emergency kit in your vehicle. This includes having a first aid- kit, an extra coat, long underwear, blanket, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, water, crackers, and an ice scraper. Remember that it is better to be safe than sorry. Slow down and use your head, then with all of this in place your winter driving will be a breeze. Be safe out there everyone!