Get your vehicle ready for the winter months

Published on Thu, Oct 21, 2010
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In many parts of the country, winter can test even the most seasoned driver’s skills with sudden road and weather changes.
In ideal circumstances you have warning of what Old Man Winter might bring for the day, but many times wet roads can become icy, and a few flurries can become a snowstorm without any warning at all.

While you can’t avoid unforeseeable weather changes, you can make sure your car  is maintained and ready for winter driving. With a little preparation, you can ensure you vehicle doesn’t leave you in the cold this winter.

As cooler temperatures arrive, so does the opportunity to prepare your vehicles for winter driving conditions.

From using a radiator coolant additive to carrying an emergency breakdown kit in your trunk, here are some tips to prepare your vehicle for winter driving:

Check your battery

Instead of landing on your “I Forgot” list, put this one at the top. Make sure your battery posts and connections are free of corrosion and that the battery has the water it needs. If your battery is older than three years, have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge.

Belts and hoses

When you’re having your vehicle serviced, make the mechanic checks the belts and hoses for wear and tear, regardless of the age of your car. Cold weather can also affect the belts and hoses of a modern car, so an inspection can’t hurt.

Have the right antifreeze mix

Extreme temperatures can cause major issues in a vehicle's engine, so testing your coolant system before winter is very important.

Checking the level and concentration of anti-freeze in your vehicle could save you costly engine repair and should be done twice every year.

Choose an extended life coolant for ultimate protection, which can be used in nearly any year, make or model vehicle worldwide.You will want to aim for a 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. This prevents the mixture from freezing at extremely cold temperatures. Or try using a coolant additive like Royal Purple’s Purple Ice that is a high performance, synthetic, radiator coolant additive.

Royal Purple recommends a minimum of 20 percent antifreeze concentration be used in street-driven vehicles because Purple Ice has no effect on the boiling and/or freezing point of water. Learn more at

Check your four-wheel drive

If your vehicle has four-wheel drive, you probably haven’t used it during the summer, so it’s good idea to check the status of your four-wheel drive system.
Make sure the system engages and disengages easily and that all the drivers of the vehicle know how and when to use the system.

Get an oil change

When you’re getting your vehicle ready for winter, change the oil using the right viscosity for your vehicle for the time of year. Conventional oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if too thick, it won’t properly lubricate your engine.

Check your owner’s manual for guidance about which oil to use in different climates and temperatures.

Another alternative is to use a synthetic blend or full synthetic motor oil like Royal Purple that will extend the time between oil changes, saving you money and having less impact on the environment.

Emergency preparedness

If you know you’re going to be on the road during the winter months, make sure you have an emergency kit in your trunk. Items you should include in your kit are: a blanket, boots, gloves and warm clothes, water and food including hard candy, ice scraper, small shovel, jumper cables, tool kit, tire chains, tire gauge, spare tire (ready to be used), tire changing equipment, first aid kit, paper towels and abrasive material such as non-clumping cat litter or sand to provide traction in the snow.

More tips

Although you may not want to think the warm weather is behind you, taking time now to prepare and protect vehicles can save significant time, money and hassle later. A few tips for vehicle winterization and safe travels this season:

Clear vision

Having full view of what's ahead and behind your vehicle at all times is vital, so be sure to check your windshield wiper blades and washer fluid before winter precipitation hits.

For colder climates where you may experience ice or frost, you may want to keep a bottle of de-icing windshield spray handy.
Simply spray your icy windshield with the fluid, turn on your vehicle defroster and your windows will clear quickly and easily.

Auto armor

Did you know that within 30 days, a small scratch or nick in a vehicle's paint finish can rust? Add some freezing temperatures and a small problem can quickly escalate to a larger, more expensive one.

Luckily, fixing scratches is quick, easy and affordable, thanks to products such as Dupli-Color's Scratch Fix 2-in-1 touch-up paint.

Available in thousands of colors to perfectly match your vehicle's paint, and featuring a patented applicator for precision and control, anyone can achieve professional looking results that will repair and protect your vehicle's appearance ... and help you avoid an ugly problem next spring.

Tired out

One of the most important aspects of winterization is ensuring you have a safe grip on the road.
Like the soles of shoes that prevent you from slipping, quality tires help keep your vehicle securely on the road, especially in slippery rain or snow conditions.

Checking tire tread and pressure is important to ensure you have optimal traction.

If you live in a particularly snow-prone or rural area, you might also consider buying snow tires and/or chains.

Travel prepared

In case something does happen to your vehicle this winter and you're stranded for an extended period of time, it's important to keep a few essential items on board.

Assemble an emergency kit containing a blanket, gloves, ice scraper, flares, flashlight, jumper cables and basic first aid items. Make sure to also carry a cell phone when you travel, particularly if bad weather is expected.

With a few simple steps, you can feel safe and secure for the cooler temperatures ahead.