Having a car is like having a lifeline to the rest of the world. In many cities, it is hard to get around without one, so making sure yours is in proper running order is paramount. Winter is coming and with it a host of cold-weather issues. While you know that general maintenance, like getting fluids changed, needs to be taken care of, rain and snow mean there are a few more things to remember beyond the usual.
Just as hot conditions can decrease the life of your battery, extreme cold can make it run less efficiently, even to the point of being seemingly dead. The cold affects the ability for the chemicals in your battery to produce a current, and if the current output isn’t enough to power your electronics, it appears as if the battery is dead.
If you live in or are moving to an area where extremely cold temperatures are common, such as the Midwest, you should invest in battery warmers that plug into a wall outlet and keep the battery from getting too cold. But if you live in a slightly warmer climate, parking in your garage usually keeps your battery warm enough.
While prices at the pump might be a bother most of the time, it is especially important to keep your tank on the full side during the winter. A tank that is less full has the chance of forming condensation on the inside. This moisture can drop down into your tank and sink to the bottom because water is heavier than gasoline. If enough water collects, it is possible for it to be introduced into the engine system, which can decrease your overall performance. In addition, water can collect in the various lines and freeze, rendering your car useless.
While you know that getting your fluids changed according to your manufacturer’s recommendations is important, it is a good idea to recheck everything when the season changes and average temperatures change wildly. Antifreeze lowers the temperature needed to cause freezing, which keeps the fluids it comes in contact with as liquids. A winter oil also lessens the strain on your car. These oils are less viscous than a regular oil, so the colder temperatures don’t cause the oil to thicken and make your engine work harder than it needs to. On the other side, these shouldn’t be used in warmer weather since heat thins the oil out to the point of it not doing its job.
Just in Case
Even if you are in an area where the weather is nice year round, there are a few things you should keep in your car just in case. You can buy pre-made vehicle safety kits, or you can easily make one yourself. Your kit should have the following items:
- Road flares or reflectors to let other motorists see you in the dark.
- A first aid kit that includes bandages, gloves, gauze and more.
- A small tool kit containing both flat head and Phillips screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench and pliers.
These types of kits can be expanded upon depending on how much space your car has, but the above items make for a good start.
When it comes to your car, it is easy to remember the big items. But, it can be the little ones that add up and give you trouble in the long run. Keeping these types of maintenance in mind for the season change will help you stay safe in any situation. And if you need to purchase a new car battery, don’t wait until it is too late!