Snow has already fallen in western Nebraska and it won't be long before metro roads are covered in snow and ice. Here are a few tips on having your vehicle winterized.
Winterization means something different at every shop, so ask some questions when you drop off your vehicle. At a minimum, the shop should be checking the fluids, the charging system, the tires, belts and hoses, wipers and lights. The charging system consists of the alternator, battery and battery cables. Have the system tested and cables cleaned to ensure your vehicle will start and run in cold weather.
Of course having good tread on your all-season radials is very important in winter weather, but if you struggle in the snow you might think about winter tires instead of all-season radials. They have a different tread design that really bites down in the snow and ice. These tires aren’t cheap, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than going out and buying a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Rubber parts like belts and hoses are some of the most common things to fail in cold weather, so make sure that they are replaced when necessary to avoid a breakdown. Newer styles of serpentine belts can look fine, yet be on the verge of failure. Special belt gauges need to be used in many cases to see if the belt is worn out.
Fluids such as coolant, engine oil and transmission fluid all need to be in good shape because cold weather is really hard on the systems that they are being used in. But some shops may try to sell a “one size fits all” schedule for replacing fluids and that might cost you some money if you are changing them too often. Unless fluids have become contaminated for some reason, if you follow the auto manufacturer’s maintenance schedule you should be just fine.
Lights are important year ‘round, but they are especially important now that we are driving in the dark more often. You probably have a few out right now and don’t even realize it. Get burned out bulbs replaced so you are not left out in the dark.
Wipers are cheap to buy and usually easy to replace. Put on a new set in the fall and you will be glad that you did when the sloppy weather hits.
Those are just some of the things that you should have inspected when you get your vehicle winterized, but you really should get a bumper to bumper check over every fall. Brakes, suspension, exhaust, filters and the rest of the vehicle should be given a thorough check over to make sure that you don’t break down in the cold.
Your mechanic should also check the heating/defrosting systems as well to make sure that they will work on those upcoming cold mornings.