How Do I Winterize My Car?

December 26th, 2021 by

If you live in an area with cold and snowy winters, you need to take better care of your vehicle than drivers living in warmer climates. Preparing your vehicle and yourself for winter driving can help you avoid any unfortunate events and allow you to take wonderful road trips with friends and family. Here are some of the most important steps you can take to winterize your vehicle.

Prepare Your Vehicle’s Exterior

The outside of your vehicle is obviously the most affected by winter’s low temperatures, high amounts of precipitation, and the chemicals that local authorities use to melt the ice on the roads. Luckily you can take some steps to protect your car from the elements. The salt that road authorities use to remove the ice from the roads is very damaging to your vehicle’s paint and can cause discoloration and rust. 

You can prevent damage to your vehicle’s exterior by applying a paint coating. It’s a relatively complex operation and the body needs to be properly polished and prepared beforehand, but you don’t have to do it before every winter, as it usually lasts for a few years. The alternative, which is to apply a coating of paint sealant, is much easier and quicker to do, but it only lasts about six months. It’s not a long-term solution, but it should be enough to get you through the cold season in most areas.

Change Your Tires, Wipers, and Oil

Your vehicle’s wheels and tires are also exposed to harsh winter conditions, so you can also use a special coating to keep them soft and flexible, which gives them more traction on icy roads. Cold weather also affects tire pressure, so make sure to regularly check yours during the winter months to make sure your tires are in optimal condition. If local temperatures are consistently low in the winter, you should also equip your vehicle with winter tires, as they’re made from special materials that don’t harden as much in cold temperatures. 

Your vehicle’s windshield and wipers are also affected by winter weather. Snow and ice deposits can damage your wipers’ blades and severely affect the driver’s visibility. You should check your wipers before winter sets in to make sure they’re in good condition. You should also have an ice scraper ready for those cold winter mornings when your windshield is frozen. There are also various substances that you can use, like de-icer sprays that quickly penetrate the ice and make it easy to remove, and anti-freeze windshield wash, which allows you to clean your windows in sub-zero temperatures.

Check The Heating System

Interior of a Toyota car

The vehicle’s heater is one of its most important parts during cold winter months, for both comfort and safety. The heat you feel in the cabin actually comes from the vehicle’s cooling system and keeps the engine from overheating. The coolant liquid takes some of the engine’s heat and uses it to warm up the interior, so the first step in ensuring your car will run as it should through the winter is to make sure you aren’t running low on coolant. This is an important step any time of year, as having low coolant liquid may cause the engine to overheat.

Even with the heating system running as it should, there are some things you can do to improve its performance. First of all, if you drive a relatively new vehicle with a modern injection system, you should simply start the engine and go. Unlike older cars, which need some time to heat up on cold days, modern ones can drive off right away. In fact, it’s recommended to do so. The engine’s oil tends to harden in the wintertime, so warming it up as quickly as possible is good for the engine. 

Make an Emergency Kit

Regardless of how well you prepare, harsh winter conditions could still cause something to go wrong. You can make sure you and your passengers are safe by making sure you have an emergency kit somewhere in your trunk. You should have basic emergency equipment, like jumper cables, a flashlight, triangle reflector kit, road flares, and a first aid kit, as these can serve you well in all seasons. Then, make sure you’re ready to change a flat tire by packing a tire pressure gauge, inflator, and patch kit. 

In case you get stranded in a sudden squall, you should also keep some blankets, non-perishable snacks, and drinking water in your trunk. You should also make sure you can call for emergency assistance by keeping a phone charger in your vehicle. A common situation in snowy driving conditions is your vehicle getting stuck in a snow pile and not having enough traction to get out of it. Your emergency kit should also include a shovel and some sand, as you’re likely to be able to dig your way out and pour some sand around the wheels for extra traction.

Drive Carefully in Winter Conditions

Having your car ready for winter is definitely important, but none of these preparations can help you if you don’t know how to adapt your driving style to the road conditions. Some of the most important tips for winter drivers are:

  • Avoid taking any unnecessary trips in harsh winter weather, especially during a state of emergency.
  • Drive much slower than usual on particularly slippery or snowy roads.
  • Make sure all accelerations and decelerations are smooth and slow, as sudden movements on icy roads can cause you to veer off the road.
  • Don’t stop when going up a hill, as starting back again on a slippery and inclined surface may be impossible. Instead, make sure you have some momentum before going up the hill.

There’s no reason why we can’t enjoy driving in the wintertime. In fact, the winter holidays may be the time of year when we need them most, as we take road trips to reunite with our loved ones. If you’re looking to have your car serviced and inspected for the winter, visit us at Classic Toyota!


Image by WorldInMyEyes Licensed via Pixabay

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