If you drive in an area where the temperature goes below freezing, you should begin winterizing your car before you get close to the 32-degree mark. To play it safe, get the process started two or three weeks before your area normally gets its first freeze, especially if you’re going to take the do-it-yourself approach.
How Cold Should It Be When Winterizing Your Car?
When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, it’s time to start winterizing. If you wait until after the first freeze, you’re most likely taking a chance. When your antifreeze levels are too low and it drops below 32 degrees, your engine’s cooling system could freeze up. The water in a vehicle’s cooling system can freeze, expand, and cause severe engine damage.
Your car’s cooling system is not the only issue worthy of your attention; there are other vehicle systems that should be part of your winter car preparation. Ignoring some of them could possibly leave you stranded and stuck out in the cold.
Winterizing Essentials for Your Vehicle
A car battery works harder to start your engine in cold weather. Your battery could be the first component to fail if it’s past the point of replacement. Because more power is required to start a car in freezing temperatures, it’s best to get your battery’s energy output checked. A reputable auto parts dealer will perform the test for free and it only takes a few minutes.
Freezing weather also affects your tires. You may have all-season tires on your car, but they may not provide you with the grip you need if you live or drive where winter temperatures linger around the freezing mark or below it. Your car’s stopping power — especially in icy conditions — is dependent on more than how well your brakes are working. Winter tires are specifically designed to perform well in colder temperatures.
Wipers, Hoses, Belts, and Tire Chains
You need to see where you’re going in a snowstorm, and you also need to get the kicked-up road salt off your windshield after the weather clears. New wiper blades can be a vital part of your winterizing routine. Don’t forget to fill up your windshield wiper fluid reservoir and keep some reserve fluid in the trunk.
The rubber hoses and belts that keep your car’s heating and cooling systems operating can turn brittle and crack in cold weather. To ensure no rubber parts break under the added stress of freezing temperatures, have them checked for wear and tear. Replace any hoses or belts that look like they may not be up to the task of getting your vehicle through the winter months.
Car and truck tire chains can make a difference when you need to get through difficult road conditions. Tire chains could be the deciding factor between calling for help or getting out of a jam on your own. Each state, however, has different laws governing when they can or must be used. Check with your state’s department of transportation to find out what laws apply.
Overall, your local reputable auto parts dealer can be an excellent source of advice and service when you need to begin your winter car preparation. In addition to finding a wide selection of automotive parts and accessories, you can also get needed vehicle diagnostics performed for free.