Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter
We may have just reached the ‘official’ first day of winter, but if you live in Ontario, you know it’s felt like winter for a while now, and that feeling isn’t likely to go away soon. Winterizing is usually done as the temperatures begin to hover around freezing, but if you haven’t made that service appointment yet, don’t worry! There’s still time to schedule an appointment with one of our trained service technicians at Grogan Ford and increase your winter-driving confidence for the long haul.
If you’d rather winterize on your own, we have some tips on how to ensure you and your vehicle will make it safely to the spring.
A healthy battery lasts about five years. If you already know your battery needs replacing, there is no time like the present. If it’s working well, at least have a technician check the battery, plus its cables, caps, and connections. It’s so much easier to check a battery in the comfort and warmth of your garage than in a cold parking lot when your car suddenly won’t crank.
During typical months of the year, oil has a relatively high viscosity and helps keep your engine and all its many gears and pistons and pieces running smoothly. When the weather begins to cool, that cool air thickens and hardens the oil, making it difficult to circulate easily through your engine.
Low-viscosity oil has a thinner consistency and is engineered to withstand cooler temperatures. Despite chilly weather, this specially-engineered oil will circulate just fine to all the critical places.
When you take your vehicle to the shop for its 3000-mile oil change, ask the technician about changing your specific brand to one with a lower viscosity. Chances are your technician has already made that change for you, but it never hurts to be sure!
At the same time you’re asking the service technician to change your oil, ask about all your fluids, too. Keeping a consistently recommended fluid level during cold winter months just makes things easier for your vehicle.
You’ll want to be sure to check levels on power steering, transmission, radiator, brake, and even windshield wiper fluid. Remember to ask about adding antifreeze to any water-based liquid, like radiator and windshield wiper fluid.
Check Windshield Wipers
If you’ve noticed that your wipers smear rather than clean or shudder and stutter across your windshield rather than gently move precipitation out of your way, it’s time for new wipers.
Windshield wipers have a 6- to 12-month lifespan. If you’ve not changed your wipers in that amount of time, it’s probably worth looking into wipers that are engineered for colder temperatures.
You can feel more confident about your wipers working well when you need them if you go ahead and change them before you find yourself on an icy road in freezing temperatures.
Consider Winter Tires
It wasn’t so long ago we called them snow tires, but times are changing! Winter tires are now engineered for much more than snow. Winter tires are manufactured for high performance on the cold, frozen blacktop, rain, ice, slush, and snow; they have more grip and provide more traction than regular tires.
Although they cost a little more than a standard set of tires, you can use winter tires for three to four seasons with the right care and maintenance.
Check Tire Pressure
Check the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for your vehicle located on the sticker placed inside the driver’s side door. We recommend that during the winter months, you keep your tire pressure just a point or two lower than the recommendation. This allows a little more give and take in your tires, especially as they expand and contract throughout the winter.
Prepare an Emergency Bag
Preparing an emergency bag is often one of the most overlooked winterizing tips, and yet, if you find yourself unavoidably stranded in winter weather, this bag can be a lifesaver. Especially if you frequently travel with older adults or younger children, you must think through what they might require and make sure you have packed items specifically for your passengers, just in case.
Grab an old, clean, gym bag, and place it somewhere in the car that you can easily access without leaving the vehicle.
Some items to consider:
- Water bottles, non-perishable snacks: jerky, crackers, hard candy, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, and a granola bar
- Extra blankets, warm socks, travel pillow
- Reflective triangles, road flares
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Extra phone charger
- Moist towelettes
- Books, magazines, coloring books, and crayons
- First aid kit: bandages, gauze, antibacterial ointment, tourniquet, tweezers, whistle, gloves, aspirin, antacids, eyewash
Your safety has always been a priority at Grogan Ford. If you’ve not winterized your vehicle yet, schedule a service appointment today. It’s not too late! We can get you in and out quickly, giving you the confidence you need to face the remaining winter months.