7 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter
Florida winters are quite mild in comparison to our neighboring states. This is why many Florida residents don’t consider the benefits of winterizing their vehicles like our northern neighbors do. Though our winters are quite mild, Jacksonville, in particular, can still experience freezing temperatures, and the impacts that the weather changes have on our cars.
This month Florida has already seen a few chilly nights, but the coldest ones will come in with the new year. Thompson Enterprises has compiled a list of winterizing tips to keep you operating safely on the roadways with less chance for a break down.
Check Your Battery
Your car battery is rated in two ways: CA (cranking amps) and CCA (cold cranking amps.) These ratings are specified by the car manufacturer to help you choose replacement batteries that will produce the minimum amperage needed to start your vehicle. For winterizing purposes, you will pay most attention to the CCA rating. If you’ve been experiencing problems with your battery during warm weather, then it is nearly guaranteed that you will have complete battery failure during the cold months due to the decrease amperage output of your battery. The amount of amps needed to start your car in the cold months increases, so having a bad battery could mean you’re stranded and in need of a tow.
An easy way to check your battery is to have a mechanic run a battery load test to see if the battery needs replaced. The mechanic may even add distilled water to the battery if it is needed. You can also stop at your choice of auto parts stores to have them test the battery. The auto parts store will normally do this for free. You can call ahead to verify.
Change Wiper Blades & Fluid
Inclement weather is a traditional effect of wintertime regardless of location. Inclement weather means road debris, mud, salt, and precipitation. These are traditional side effects in Florida, but other states have snow and ice. Since wiper blades are only good for one year and are the primary way to keep windshields free of debris, consider changing them now before the need arises.
You should also make sure the wiper fluid reservoir is topped off with a brand that has a lower freezing temperature.
Check Your Tire Pressure
If you aren’t purchasing new tires for the winter, you will at least want to make sure the tires you have are properly inflated. Tire pressure drops during cold weather, approximately 1psi for every 10 degree drop in temperature. A properly inflated tire ensures the best contact between your tire and the road which is essential for traction in winter conditions.
Change the Oil & Adjust the Viscosity
You engine must be properly lubricated in order to run well consistently. In cold temperatures, the effectiveness of oil is reduced. The colder it is outside, the thicker the oil in your engine becomes. Thick oil can’t circulate through the engine like thin oil can. If the oil can’t lubricate your engine the way it needs, you’ll be stuck with a car that won’t start, resulting in calling for a wrecker service like us.
Prevent this winter headache by changing your oil viscosity to one recommended in your owner’s manual for winter climate.
Check Anti-Freeze & Other Fluid Levels
You car requires water to run through the coolant system and keep the engine at safe operating temperatures. Anti-freeze keeps the water in your coolant system from freezing in the winter months. Your ratio of coolant to water should be 50:50. You can buy a simple tester at your local auto parts store. Once tested, adjust the fluid levels accordingly or consider having a mechanic flush the system and replace with the correct ratio.
You will also want to take this opportunity to top off any other fluid reservoirs like brake and power steering fluids.
Check Belts & Hoses
Cold weather and age can weaken and deteriorate the belts and hoses needed to make your car run. Check them for signs of wear and replace them as needed. If a belt snaps while driving, or a hose busts, you’ll be waiting on ride from the tow truck.
Stock Your Car with Emergency Supplies
You never know when you might get stranded on the side of the road in an awful situation. Be prepared by having emergency supplies packed in your vehicle. Consider adding the following items:
While this list is not comprehensive of all the items you should consider for winterizing your car, this will help you be prepared for our mild Florida winters. You will want to add some additional items to your list if you are planning on heading into snow and ice for the winter months or even the holidays.