3 Car Maintenance Items to Review Midwinter
Don’t let winter weather leave you stranded! Stay safe on the road by checking your tires, battery, and fluids midwinter.AAMCO | 01/25/2022
Vehicle maintenance is often the last thing on someone's list during the dead of winter. However, vehicle problems in midwinter can often be prevented by checking on three simple car maintenance items: your tires, battery connections, and fluid levels. Keeping these items in check can help prevent common winter driving emergencies and make for a better, safer driving experience. The last thing you want is to find yourself stranded on the road in cold weather!
1. Tire Health
Tires are one of the most essential parts of a car—they keep you moving safely and predictably through icy or snowy roads. Without proper tread and adequate tire pressure, you can quickly lose control of your vehicle.
When temperatures drop quickly, the air in your tires contracts and will become denser; this is why tire pressure can easily fall when it's cold outside.
If you find that your tires are low on pressure (using a standard gauge), add more air to bring them up to the recommended PSI, which is posted on a sticker inside the driver-side door.
There are two factors to consider when checking your tires in the middle of winter: tread depth and tire pressure.
Make sure your tires have enough tread depth to weather winter's worst. Tires should be checked before every major winter trip and adjusted as necessary.
Use the quarter test to ensure that your tires are in good shape. If you are unsure how much tread is left on your tire, do not take chances—visit an automotive technician for an assessment.
Your owner's manual will give you the proper pressure for your vehicle in both cold and hot weather. Use a tire pressure gauge to ensure each tire is adequately inflated before heading out on wintry roads.
2. Battery Connections
Have you ever hopped in your car on an ice-cold morning only to find it isn't starting? This is a common problem for many drivers during winter.
A vehicle's battery works harder during cold weather, and a weak connection can make it difficult—or even impossible—to start your vehicle.
To avoid this, you should check the battery connections (at the terminals) once a week in winter. Remove any corrosion or dirt on the terminals with a wire brush, and make sure they are tightly connected to the battery inside your vehicle.
Remember to take it easy on your vehicle during cold weather—the harder you accelerate, the harder your engine must work. Keep it in second gear when climbing hills or starting on slippery streets, and give yourself extra time to slow down and stop.
3. Fluid Levels
When temperatures go up and down rapidly (as they often do during midwinter), make sure your car's fluids are checked regularly. Oil, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid all help keep your vehicle optimally on the road.
As with any other season, oil is something you should check midwinter because cold weather can cause increased oil consumption due to increased engine workloads. If you notice thicker smoke coming out of your exhaust or must add oil regularly, consider getting your engine looked at by an automotive technician.
Take care of your car's antifreeze by checking the levels regularly. If the fluid is dirty or low, have it replaced since freezing temperatures can cause cracks in old coolant tanks.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Check the windshield washer fluid reservoir regularly, keeping it at least half full. If you need to refill the tank, use a mixture of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol (to avoid freezing), or keep a bottle of full-strength windshield washer fluid in your vehicle.
Always keep an eye on your gas gauge, keeping it at least half-full in the middle of winter. Condensation can sometimes build up in the empty areas of a gas tank. This condensation can also potentially freeze inside your gas lines and prevent your vehicle from starting.
Stay Vigilant During the Dark Days of Winter
Keeping your car in shape during midwinter ensures that the weather won't leave you stranded on the side of the road. Make sure you check your tire pressure and tread depth regularly, clean battery connections weekly to avoid starting problems, and keep your car's fluids topped off.
One of the best ways to ensure your car is in good shape is to visit an AAMCO Center near you to discuss any issues you might be having with your vehicle. A professional can help with everything from identifying potential problems to keeping your car’s performance high throughout the cold winter months.
If you aren't on a regularly scheduled maintenance routine, now is an excellent time to catch up. Keep your vehicle in shape during the dark days of winter, and you'll make it to a sunnier springtime without a problem. Make an appointment today!