Donald Harris

Article Summary:

Ten steps for winterizing your car to prepare your vehicle for winter conditions.

How to Prepare your Car for Winter

Old man winter is just around the corner with all his nasty weather… rain, sleet, snow and cold. Now is the time to get your vehicles ready.

1. Check the anti-freeze. It’s easy to do with an inexpensive tester available at parts and department stores in the automotive section.

2. When you check the anti-freeze, examine the belts and hoses , look for checks and cracks in the belts. Also look for “soft” places and bulges in the hoses. If belts or hoses look suspect, change them. It’s a LOT easier to change them at a time and at the time and place of your choosing than to have to change one along side a desolate road in the middle of the night in freezing weather.

3. Then check the wiper blades. Sure they probably look ok, but examine them. Are they “stiffâ€? Do they have any little chunks missing? Turn your lawn sprinkler on and let it sprinkle your car for a few minutes. Then try the wipers. Are all the wiper speeds working? Is it removing sufficient water off the windshield? If not, replace the wiper blades. If you don’t feel comfortable changing it yourself, take it to the shop and have it repaired. Poor visibility can cost you your life!

4. Now examine your tires. Look at the tread. Are there “dished out” places or spots where uneven wear showing? If so, then not only do you need new tires, but you also will need to have the front end aligned. You should also have it checked for worn parts, tie rods, and ball joints.

5. Check your brakes for wear. Worn brake parts can cause uneven braking and lots of trouble in the best of times, but on snow and ice it gets a lot worse. You may not notice any braking problem on dry pavement, but on ice and snow it can put you in the ditch or hospital or both.

6. Now is the time to service your vehicle. Look in the owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for service. They built the thing and know when it needs serviced! It will make you and the vehicle a lot happier in the long term.

7. Don’t forget the tune-up. Most internal combustion engines will start and run in warm weather, but let it turn cold and damp and problems show up. Again it’s much easier to get the vehicle tuned up and ready for winter at a time and place of your choice than letting the vehicle choose. Vehicles choose the most miserable places to tell you they need something repaired.

8. Use a moisture removal additive in your fuel, especially during the spring and fall when temperature varies widely from day to day. This is available at most places that sell gas as well as in the automotive section of parts stores and department stores. The best car care in the world won’t prevent frozen fuel lines when moisture condenses in your fuel tank when the tank isn’t full and the temperature changes. I usually put in a bottle every 3-4 fill-ups in the winter.

9. This is also the time to get some ballast for your vehicle before the snow flies. Bags of sand or concrete blocks work very well to give that added traction needed for winter driving.

10. When you put the ballast in your vehicle, be sure to check the air pressure in your tires. Proper tire inflation is always needed for safer driving in any weather but especially in poor traction conditions. If you live in an area that frequently gets lots of snow and ice, tire chains may be a good investment for you.

The time you spend preparing your car or truck for winter will pay off later when you have to travel in those blizzard conditions! Remember to drive safely — a car is only as safe as its driver is careful!

Donald Harris is a former mechanic and used car dealer. He continues to tinker under that ol’ shade tree. His website has car repair tips and links to parts, manuals and classic cars, trucks and tractors. cars trucks and

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