Yeap, we are in that time of the year. New York winters can be unpredictable, but they usually present major challenges to drivers as the ice and snow fall and colder temperatures set in. By winterizing your vehicle now, you will be ready for driving in winter weather. Here are vehicle maintenance tips to help prevent breakdowns and car accidents:
Check tire pressure. Due to winter’s low temperatures, the air pressure in a cold tire can easily drop. Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure points. Tire pressure can change by about 1 p.s.i. for every 10-degree Fahrenheit change in temperature.
Snow tires can increase traction. A good set of winter tires can increase traction, because they are optimized for snow and ice. Their tread patterns are designed for winter conditions, and they are made from softer rubber compounds that retain flexibility in the winter.
Check your vehicle’s four-wheel drive system. As temperatures get colder, engine oil gets thicker and does not circulate as well as a thinner oil. Without circulating oil, the engine won’t get proper lubrication. Read your owner’s manual to find out the type of engine oil your vehicle takes, and replace the oil, or have a mechanic change it. Although a four-wheel drive system is useful, the Deputy Sheriff Association warns against being overconfident since a four-wheel drive system will not help you stop any faster, and recommends driving for the conditions.
Check belts and hoses. Cold temperatures can speed up wear and tear on belts and hoses – have them inspected by a certified mechanic before winter.
Check the battery. Extremely cold temperatures can reduce battery power by up to 50 percent. Clean any corrosion that may have built up on the posts and connections, and test your battery if it is older than three years old at a vehicle repair shop.
Check the antifreeze mixture. If you have a mixture of more water than antifreeze in your radiator, the water can freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an antifreeze tester from an auto parts store to check if the ratio is 50:50. It is very important to frequently check and keep a balanced antifreeze mixture.
Replace windshield wipers. Worn or torn wipers will not clear your windshield, and provide enough visibility for driving through a snow, sleet, or ice storm. Check your washer fluid and add a de-icing solvent.
Check your gas tank frequently. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times in order to keep your gas lines from freezing. The moisture in a gas tank reacts with below freezing temperatures and can easily freeze. You also may need extra gas, in case you get stranded or lost during bad weather … and that’s my Cup of Tea!