Helping Your Vehicle Survive Cold Temperatures

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 - Car Tips

Changes in climate don’t just affect you- they also have a major impact on your vehicle. If you lived in an area with heavy winters, you wouldn’t dare walk outside without proper protection from the elements. The same concept holds true for your car: you can’t expect it to operate effectively if you don’t give it some attention and protect it from the cold.

Engine Oil

The oil inside of your engine adapts to how cold or hot your engine is running. Outside temperatures can and do influence the temperature of your engine. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are using proper oil when the weather changes.

If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing during the winter, then you’ll need thinner oil. For example, if you run something like 10W-30 when it’s hot, then try switching to 5W-30 when winter rolls in. If you are unsure about what kind of oil you should be using, refer to either the manufacturer or the owner’s manual.

Engine Coolant

Despite what you might believe, the coolant system in your vehicle is not solely designed for preventing your engine from overheating. It is responsible for so much more- like protecting your engine against corrosion. Before winter comes in and temperatures drip, make sure that you are running an engine coolant which contains “ethylene glycol”. This will help protect your engine and survive the season.

The ratio of water to coolant is required in every vehicle. A repair technician or even your owner’s manual can let you know how much you need. If you can’t locate this number, the general winter ratio for most vehicles is 40% water to 60% coolant. When it comes to helping your car survive the winter, adjusting the coolant to water ratio is a crucial step. Ask someone who is more experienced or knowledgeable if you are still having trouble.

Battery Capacity

Your engine isn’t the only area on your vehicle which doesn’t work well with cold weather. The capacity of your battery will greatly be reduced when winter roles through. You must inspect your battery thoroughly. Check the terminals, cables, and fluid and make sure that they are ready to survive the cold.

Check for cracks for breaks in the battery cables. There should be no loose connections when it comes to the terminals. Finally, check the battery fluid. You can do this by removing the refill hole. Refill it with water if it is below the level on the bottom of the cap. Turn your engine off to read the charge level in your battery (make sure your engine is off). More advanced batteries have built-in hydrometers which tell you how much voltage is remaining. Otherwise, you’ll need to use a handheld hydrometer.

Snow Tires

You will be driving on ice, sleet, and snow (or a combination of the three) when you enter the winter months. Driving on these surfaces can be dangerous. But the reality is that you have things to do and you can’t stay at home all day. Installing the proper tires on your truck or car can make a world’s difference when you are driving through snow or ice. Manufactures recommend that you go ahead and change all four tires at once. If you don’t, the difference between summer and snow tires can cause even worse damage to your vehicle.

If you don’t live off of a regular road, then these become even handier. And great option would be to purchase tires which are designed for all of the seasons. The advantage to this is that you won’t have to change them every time the temperature changes. However, the disadvantage is that you won’t have a set of tires which are specific to each one. By following the tips and techniques presented here, your vehicle will be able to thrive during the winter months.

Protecting your family is always a top priority. Having your vehicle properly maintained will keep it running well in the winter, and ready for any road conditions. Another tip to help you is to find best car insurance rates for any vehicle make and model.

Car Tips by:
Melissa Cameron is a freelance writer who lives in Texas and who loves providing valuable tips and advice for consumers auto insurance quotes.

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