Friday, December 23, 2011

Get Your Car Ready for Winter

With winter on its way or already here now is the time to start getting you car ready for winter. Below are the things that I do to prep my car for winter.
  1. Check the coolant - You should already be doing this each oil change but it is worth another check. Unlike in the summer you will need to have a mix and not run 100% water. Usually a 50/50 mix is the ideal ratio to balance boil over and freeze prevention. The last thing you want is to have your engine coolant freeze as this would probably be the end of a number of parts.
  2. Check your battery - A number of auto parts stores will check your battery for free if you don't have the tools to do it your self. Cold weather is hard on batteries and if you have a battery approaching the end of its life it might just freeze which will be the end of that battery.
  3. If you haven't done a flush and fill recently on you coolant now would be a good time to do so. This ensures that you have both good coolant and that you don't have a plugged heater core. 
  4. Switch to a lighter weight oil - Now your car will typically have a recommended oil usually 5w30, some vehicles have 2 oils they recommend based off of the temperatures it will operate in. In my daily driver (the BMW 540i) I will run 4 different weight oils throughout the year. In the peak heat of the summer I run 15w40 while in the middle of winter I will run 0w30 while running 5w30 and 10w30 in the less extreme  temperatures. The first number is the cold flow number so the cooler it is the lighter oil you can go with. When the day time highs are going to only be -10F it would be worth while to run a light oil that actually will flow and build oil pressure. The second number is the hot flow number and means this oil will thin no more than a X weight oil so 0w30 when cold flows like a 0 weight oil but once it warms up it flows like a 30 weight oil. Using a lighter oil also will help it start when it is cold as well. 
  5. Use synthetic oil - If you haven't read my write up on using synthetics one of the reasons they are better is they have better flow at low temperatures. This allows your engine to build oil pressure sooner. This will also make starting it easier as well.
  6. Wax you car - Now is a great time to go and do a nice hand waxing. The nice shine won't last but it will provide additional protection from road salt. If you are lucky enough to not live in an area that salts the daylights out of the road then go and enjoy some time in the nice weather and wax your car anyway.
  7. Get some rubber floor mats - This will keep your carpet in nice condition and also helps prevent the floor of your car from rusting out. It seems to take forever for automotive carpet to dry out so this will keep then dry and also prevent them from getting that awful salt stain.
  8. Check the tread on your tires - With the snow and ice on the road you don't want other factors decreasing your cars traction. Good tread helps provide as much traction as possible which you will need.
  9. Get the snow tires on it - If you are lucky enough to have snow tires they make a world of difference when driving on snowy and icy roads. The reason is that they are made with rubber compounds that can provide better traction on theses surfaces. These compounds are very soft so you don't want to run snow tires in the summer otherwise they will just wear away but in the winter do wonders. If you don't have snow tires but would like some I would suggest purchasing a set of cheap steel rims to have them mounted on as it will save you money in the long run since you will other wise be paying to have them mounted and balanced on your existing rims and then paying to have them unmounted and the summer tires put back on in just a few months.

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