Time to make sure vehicles are ready for winter
Old man winter will be making his yearly appearance before too long and making sure your vehicle is ready for him could save you a lot in the log run.
“Winterizing your vehicle is a very important step to prevent costly future repairs,” Marmie service manager Monty MacKay said. “Just by taking some simple steps and making sure fluids, the battery and other components of your car are ready to go for the winter months will make the difference.”
There is one more step in making sure your vehicle is ready for winter and that is keeping certain items in your car is case of getting stranded.
These items include:
• Kitty litter for traction
• Extra blankets
• Windshield scraper and small broom
• Battery powered radio
• Water, snack food including energy bars raisins and mini candy bars
• Matches and small candles
• Extra hats, socks and mittens
• First aid kit with pocket knife
• Necessary medications
• Tow chain or rope
• Booster cables
• Emergency flares and reflectors
• Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention
• Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter
According to MacKay and Automotive Service Excellence, here are some the items that should be looked at before winter sets in.
• Get engine performance problems looked at — hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.
• Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel, and PCV.
• As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in the tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming.
• Change your oil and oil filter.
• The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked regularly by a professional technician.
• The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.
• Replace old blades regularly and don’t forget to carry an ice scraper.
• Have the battery checked. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. However, most motorists can perform routine care: Wear eye protection and protective rubber gloves. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; retighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.
• Inspect all lights and bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses.
• Exhaust fumes inside a vehicle’s cabin can be deadly. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift. The trunk and floorboards should also be inspected for small holes.
• Worn tires are dangerous in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good working condition. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excess gasoline.
• Have your brakes checked periodically for safety and to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.
• The transmission is often neglected until a major failure. Routine checks and fluid changes at prescribed intervals can prevent very costly repairs down the line.
• Always carry an emergency kit with you: extra gloves, boots and blankets; flares; a small shovel and sand or kitty litter; tire chains; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a cell phone and extra car charger.
“All these steps are important,” MacKay said. “Being safe during the winter months and not getting stranded due to mechanical failure is key in preventive maintenance.”