As the weather turns nasty, it’s important to make sure that your vehicle is prepared to deal with every winter storm that Mother Nature might throw your way. Not an auto expert? Don’t worry. We spoke with several experts to learn what car repairs you need to tackle as soon as possible this winter. Many of them are essential for road safety.
Check/replace your car’s belts and hoses
“Winter is an important time to check under the hood and see how everything is holding up around your engine. Cold temperatures tend to weaken belts and hoses, and the last thing you want is to have something break or loosen while on the road,” Teresa DeJohn of Matco Tools advises. “So make sure nothing is loose or leaking under the hood.” Shane Mullins, Service Director at Sheehy Ford Springfield, agrees that if there are any cracks or signs of wear, they should be replaced. Get into the habit of checking your belts and hoses at the beginning of the winter season every year.
Check/replace your car’s fluids
“Fluids must be maintained at the proper levels at all times, but even more so during winter,” Jordan Perch, Car Safety Expert from dmv.com, says. “You must make sure that fluid levels are topped off, since various parts of your car can be damaged if there is not enough windshield washer fluid, oil, coolant, or transmission fluid. You have to do this if you want to avoid costly repairs to your engine, transmission, or brakes. Putting the right amount of antifreeze is especially important in winter.”
Teresa DeJohn adds that drivers might want to replace the type of oil they’re using. “If the oil in your vehicle is too thick, it won’t be able to reach those metal surfaces and subsequently provide lubrication to your engine. In the winter, cold temperatures cause oil to thicken. But you can help prevent this problem by filling your car with a lower-viscosity oil. Every car is different, so be sure to check your owner’s manual to see if this is an option worth exploring.”
Check/replace your tires
“You should inspect your tires properly, and see if pressure is at the recommended level, so that you get good traction, which is extremely important when driving in winter, when roads are wet, slippery, and covered in snow or ice,” Jordan Perch advises. “Tire pressure decreases as temperatures start to drop, so you must check them regularly and maintain the proper pressure. This will also improve your car’s fuel economy. Also, check the tire tread, and replace them if they are worn down. If you can afford it, it’s recommended that you buy a set of winter tires.”
Not sure if your tire’s tread is too worn? Stan Markuze, Founder of www.PartMyRide.com, has an easy rule of thumb to use. “If you place a quarter into a groove of your tires and Washington’s head is below the tread, then it may be time for replacement.”
Replace windshield wiper blades
“Wiper blades should be inspected and replaced if needed to ensure they can clear the windshield well, especially when salts and road debris accumulate,” Shane Mullins, Service Director at Sheehy Ford Springfield explains. “Something many people do not know is there are two types of washer fluids — summer & winter blends. Summer blends can freeze if there is any in your system. You always want to make sure this is updated and filled with winter blend washer fluid to withstand the cold winter months.”
Check your battery
“It’s not uncommon for car batteries to fail during the winter months,” says Jordan Perch, Car Safety Expert from dmv.com. “That’s why you should take a look at your battery and see what condition it’s in. You should look for signs of corrosion on its cables and clamps, and if you notice there is something wrong with it, you should replace it.”
Do not attempt any auto repair or diagnosis that could pose a health or safety risk. When in doubt, always consult a professional mechanic.