There are many winter vehicle maintenance jobs you need to do to get your vehicle ready for the cold seasonal temperatures. Ignoring your winter auto care is only asking for trouble which leads to money and time lost. Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you costing you less over time in repairs. Having a winter vehicle checklist will help get your car ready for winter and will ensure you are taking care of the fundamentals.
Here are some items on my winter vehicle checklist that I do to keep our vehicles in tip-top condition.
- Oil Spraying
When I came to Canada Mrs CBB already had a newer vehicle and she got it “Krowned” every year. We still have this vehicle, it’s just under 10 years old and it’s still in mint condition inside and out. Sure the mileage is low but very little ever goes wrong with it either. None of the wiring is corroded, there’s no rusted through doors or rocker panels, it starts first time every time, never failed an e-test and has never broke down.
I’ll be the first to admit that getting your vehicle oil sprayed isn’t going to solve all your vehicle issues, good general maintenance is still key. Like my father, I always buy the Haynes manual for the particular vehicle/s we own. It’s a great resource if you don’t know how to repair problems as it’s pretty much step -by -step.
Remember that salt on your shoes kills the interior of your car too. We get the car cleaned out (most places do a salt removal package) at the end of winter.
- Winter Tires.
I swap over the All-Season Tires to Winter Tires myself as most places charge approximately $40 and if you can do it yourself like I can save the money. Winter Tires provide more grip at colder temperatures as they are made of a softer compound rubber. Check the tire pressures as the pressure will fall as the temperature falls. Remember if you’re swapping over your own tires that the tires are on the correct side of the vehicle.
Tip: Check the amount of tread left on the tires, built-in wear bar indicators will usually give you a good idea.
- Wiper Blades and Wind-shield Washer Fluid.
Make sure the winter wipers are in good condition or swap out your summer blades for winter blades. Streaks across the wind-shield indicate the wiper blade is starting to fail. These streaks can interfere with your vision while driving.
Swap your washer fluid for a winter formula that won’t freeze. I usually buy a box of 4 jugs when it goes on special, it tends to be cheaper than single jugs and you know you’ll use it.
Tip: Always keep a jug of wind-shield washer fluid handy in your vehicle in the winter.
- Oil Change.
If you’re going to do the oil change yourself make sure the viscosity is correct for the temperature range the vehicle will be subjected to. Personally I change my own engine oil and filter as I can get a $60+ oil change for $35. Check the manual that your vehicle comes with for further information.
- Fluid levels and condition.
You can check the coolant level and condition but you’ll need test strips or a refractometer to test it yourself . Most batteries these days are maintenance free so you can’t check the electrolyte in the cells. Personally I leave the battery on a long low amp charge to help reduce sulfation of the battery.
Some auto repair shops will test your battery for you for free like Canadian Tire but beware, some electronic testers will fail a perfectly good battery. If in doubt get a second test on a carbon pile before running out to buy a new battery.
Check the power steering fluid level, brake fluid level, transmission level (for both standard and automatic) and the differential level if you have a rear wheel drive and transfer case if you have a more traditional 4×4.
- Mild days and car washes.
It’s always worth taking the car to the self wash in the winter on mild days to wash off the salt build up. Be careful, don’t wash off the oil spraying you just got done! Just be careful, wet brakes tend to have less coefficient of friction, meaning they’re not going to brake as well as they would if they were dry.
There’s a multitude of fuel and oil additives on the market, some of which are designed for the driver more than the car. Gasoline antifreeze seems to be a product bought by men that flies off the shelf, but I’d do a little research before adding anything. Gasoline is made with up to 10% ethanol (it’s stated right on the pump) which is alcohol and already has a much lower freeze point than water. Gasoline itself has a ridiculously low freeze point so why add it? If you do suffer from freezing gas lines on your car you’ve got other problems and it’s called water in your tank.
If you or your other half aren’t particularly handy most auto service centres run a winterization package that is likely worth every penny. Having a good winter vehicle is better than taking risks with your life and your pocket book. A little bit of maintenance goes a long way to preventing some vehicle issues and can cost you less in the long run.
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