Living in New England you have probably seen your fair share of unpredictable weather. Even Mark Twain was quoted as saying “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” Because it can change quickly and winter is fast approaching, it is important for you to be prepared. The possibility of getting caught in a snowstorm while on the road is more likely to occur over the next few months, so here are some car winterization tips you can use to get your vehicle ready to take on any storm!
Amount and Condition of Fluids
One of the most important areas to check is fluids: not only the level but also the condition. It is a good idea to have your coolant flushed every couple years so we advise you to bring it in and have it checked. Topping off the washer fluid, and keeping it full, is important to reduce the possibility of it freezing.
In addition, we recommend you have all hoses and belts checked. In colder weather the rubber constricts and can weaken belts and hoses. Ensuring these are in good condition reduces breakage and will keep your vehicle operating safely on the road.
Tread and Pressure of Tires
Check your Tire Treads
Thomas J. (TJ) Zongol, Service Manager at Hoffman Audi New London, advises customers to have their tires inspected to see where they sit on tread depth. “Sometimes people have gotten tread evaluations during the milder weather months, when the recommendation would be different. You really want to have your tires checked for decent tread for our winter months,” Zongol advises. “In inclement weather you just need better traction.”
Check your Tire Pressure
This time of year you might see your low tire-pressure warning light come on. While tires lose air pressure due to punctures or other damage, another contributor is the change in seasons. In fact, every time the temperature drops by 10 degrees, your vehicle loses one or two psi!
To maintain safety, performance, and fuel efficiency inflate tires to the proper pressure as indicated in your Owner’s Manual or shown inside the driver’s door of your vehicle. At Hoffman Auto Group, we encourage customers to measure tire pressure regularly (including spare tires) to avoid potential tire-pressure issues while on the road. Keeping a small tire pressure gauge in your vehicle is a good idea!
Test your Car Battery
Chemical reactions that generate power in the battery slow down in colder weather. Also, the engine needs more current from the battery to start up in low temperatures; so it’s a double whammy on the battery. Have a load test done to see if your battery is up to the task, and check its general condition (corrosion, post and connection conditions, etc.) to stay prepared. Your battery is also filled with fluid, so make sure it has enough inside. Although this is can be done yourself, we highly recommend having one of our trained technicians examine the fluid level during your next service visit for your safety.
Your windshield wipers are your first line of defense while driving during inclement weather. If you have driven in a northern winter during especially heavy snow or ice storms you can attest to the importance of your wipers, not only in removing debris but in doing it well. Worn wipers significantly impact the visibility so proper maintenance is critical to your safety. While it depends on your make and model, most manufacturers recommend you change your wipers every 12,000 miles. Salt and other road debris take a toll on wipers, which may impact how often they need to be changed.
If wipers become frozen there are several ways to free them, including using the defroster and breaking the ice away manually. If a vehicle is exposed to a storm for a period of time, the blades can be protected by covering them with plastic wrap or something similar that can easily be peeled away later, saving time and aggravation. Never pour hot water on your windshield as it can crack the glass as well as freeze, creating a bigger mess.
Defrosting and Heating Units
Water vapor coming in from an open window — or even from your own breathing — can cause condensation to form on the window, making it difficult to see. Defrosters solve this problem by blowing warm, dry air over the glass. If you’re sure your defroster unit is functioning properly but there’s still a problem with too much fogging, have your car checked for air leaks around the doors and windows. It’s also important to make sure that your heater is working properly.
Know How Your 4WD Works
Do you know how your 4WD system works, especially if you’re in a new car and driving it for the first winter season? Four-wheel drive varies depending on the vehicle so check your Owner’s Manual for the best environment in which to use it and how to engage the system.
It’s important to make sure everything is working correctly before winter arrives, as properly functioning 4WD systems improve tire traction on snow and ice, decreasing the possibility of getting stuck. Remember that 4WD will not stop your vehicle on black ice or snow-covered, icy roads so always take caution during the winter and be aware of the road conditions. Safety first. Give yourself plenty of extra travel time.
Hoffman Nissan’s Service Manager, Rocky Subramani, strongly recommends staying on top of regular maintenance with your vehicle. This will ensure all of the fluids, hoses, belts, heating units and tire tread are in good condition to face any weather condition. “Regular maintenance will always keep you out of trouble in the winter,” says Subramani.
Stay safe, enjoy the picturesque New England roads and all that this area has to offer. But before the big storms come make sure your vehicle is ready and has been checked by a factory trained technician. Drop by any of our Hoffman Auto Group dealerships any time to ensure your vehicle is ready for the chilly days ahead. We look forward to serving you soon!
Check out our suggestions for 10 essential winter items for your car on Hoffman Toyota Scion’s YouTube page. What else would you add to this list?
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