Freezing Winter Car Care Tips

When it comes to winter car care, many motorists think of antifreeze and batteries, but vehicles need extra attention in winter, especially when temperatures drop below zero, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Sub-zero temperatures can have a real impact on your vehicle,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling, and very cold temperatures reduce battery power. If you haven’t had your vehicle checked recently, a thorough vehicle inspection is a good idea so you can avoid the aggravation and unexpected cost of a breakdown in freezing weather.”

The Car Care Council offers six quick tips to help your vehicle perform at its best during cold weather months.

  1. Keep the gas tank at least half full; this decreases the chance of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
  2. Check the tire pressure, including the spare, as tires can lose pressure when temperatures drop. Consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.
  3. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
  4. Allow your car a little more time to warm up when temperatures are below freezing so that the oil in the engine and transmission circulate and get warm.
  5. Change to low-viscosity oil in winter as it will flow more easily between moving parts when it is cold. Drivers in sub-zero temperatures should drop their oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.
  6. Consider using cold weather washer fluid and special winter windshield blades if you live in a place with especially harsh winter conditions.

Drivers should stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

GEICO asks drivers to prepare accordingly with the following tips.

Clear your car: Prior to heading out after a storm, clean snow and ice off your car to maximize visibility. Remember to also clear the roof, as large chunks of snow and ice can fly off and strike other vehicles, creating a hazard.

Inspect wipers and washer fluid: Worn wiper blades smear water on the windshield, limiting visibility. Keep your vehicle’s windshield washer fluid reservoir filled so you can clear the windshield of salt and grime whenever necessary.

Check tire pressure: Cold weather can cause tires to lose pressure. Driving with tires at the incorrect pressure affects steering and can cause a blowout risk according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Look on the sidewall of the tire to see what the correct pressure is for your car’s tires.

Keep your gas tank close to full: Winter weather can cause unexpected traffic jams, and you don’t want to have to worry about conserving fuel.

Mind your speed: It’s vitally important to take it slow on slippery roads, and increase your following distance.

Keep supplies handy: Ice scrapers, a snow shovel, jumper cables, a flashlight, a blanket and a spare phone charger can help if you find yourself stranded in winter weather.

Monitor the road surface: A road that appears wet could actually have black ice forming on it. Prepare to slow down if you approach an icy surface.