Prepare your car for the winter weather with these tips.

How to winterize your car

Fall’s officially in full swing, which means the winter weather will be here before you know it. Instead of waiting until the last minute to prepare your car, you may want to winterize it in advance. You can avoid breaking down on the side of the road and kicking yourself for not getting it ready while the temperatures are still decent.

Here are 12 maintenance tasks you must take care of before the cold rolls in:

1. Get the oil changed
You know that getting your oil changed every three months is important. But during the winter, The San Diego Department of Motor Vehicles said you need to consider switching to a thinner oil. This is especially important if you live somewhere that reaches temperatures below freezing.

2. Check the engine coolant
Engine coolant keeps your car from overheating, but it and also protects your engine against corrosion during the winter. Most cars follow a 60 percent coolant to 40 percent water ratio when the temperatures drop, so consult your technician about making the adjustment.

Your technician can top off your engine coolant before winter.Your technician can top off your engine coolant before winter.

3. Evaluate your battery
Did you know that extreme temperatures can reduce your car’s battery power by 50 percent? Edmunds suggested taking your car in and having the battery tested if it’s over three years old. A technician may recommend investing in a new one.

4. Top off your windshield washer fluid
The weather conditions will work against your windshield in the winter. Between the snow, sleet and salt build up, you’ll want to make sure you can always see clearly during your commute. Keeping your windshield washer fluid topped off will ensure clear vision. It’s also suggested to mix the solution with de-icer to avoid the moisture freezing up while you drive.

5. Invest in new windshield wipers
Topping off your windshield washer fluid is very important, but so is investing in new wipers. If the rubber on your blades is cracked, dried or ripped, it’s time to grab a new pair. Winter wipers are a great option – they provide more strength to tough it through inclement weather.

A pair of winter windshield wipers can help you cut through the built-up snow.A pair of winter windshield wipers can help you cut through the built-up snow.

6. Consider snow tires
If you’re worried that your car won’t drive well on slippery roads, it might be time to purchase new tires. According to Consumer Reports, replacing all-season tires with winter ones is a worthy investment because they’re designed with rubber compounds and tread patterns to drive successfully on slick roads.

Just remember: It’s very important to switch back to your all-season tires once the season is over. Winter tires are not designed to withstand warm temperatures.

7. Get your brakes checked
This may seem like an obvious task, but it’s worth the mention. Having your breaks checked before the winter is one of the most important safety precautions you can take to avoid sliding and colliding into other cars.

“Take your car in for a professional wash and fresh coat of wax.”

8. Protect the car’s paint
Unfortunately, the dirt and salt can accumulate on your car and damage the paint’s finish. To protect it, take your vehicle in for a professional wash and fresh coat of wax.

9. Prevent a freeze-up
With rain, sleet and snow coming your way, your car is going to retain a lot of moisture. Ultimately, it can get into the door locks and freeze up, locking you out of the car. This is not the ideal situation, but don’t panic. You can prepare in advance by lubricating your locks with silicone spray designed for cars.

10. Review your manual all-wheel drive
It’s likely that you haven’t used your all-wheel or four-wheel drive since last winter. That means you have no idea if it’s running smoothly. Instead of waiting to find out during your drive through the first snow of the season, take your car in and have the function reviewed.

11. Check your heating system
Just like your all-wheel drive, you probably haven’t used the heating system in a while. What if it broke down over the summer? Just turn it on and make sure it’s ready to keep you warm all winter. If you notice an issue, take it in to the shop.

Make sure your heating system works so you can drive comfortably in the winter.Make sure your heating system works so you can drive comfortably in the winter.

12. Pack an emergency kit
Even after performing all of these maintenance services, there’s still a chance you could break down on the side of the road. To prepare for an emergency, be sure to keep a roadside kit in your vehicle at all times. You can find a pre-assembled kit at most auto shops and some supermarkets, but you can make you own with the follow items:

  • A flashlight.
  • First aid-kit.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Flares.
  • A blanket, hats and gloves.
  • Extra windshield washer fluid.
  • Non-perishable food and extra water.

You’ll thank yourself later for packing this kit in your car before the snow rolls in.

Take your car in for a tune-up
Don’t worry about taking care of these maintenance services yourself. Just bring your car down to New Jersey Auto Auction! Our technicians will make sure all of these tasks are completed so you can drive safely all winter long.