Let’s talk about winterizing your vehicle! It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, really, it’s super simple and can all be done when you schedule your next oil change! With our courtesy inspection, we look over MOST of the list anyways, talk about super easy and convenient! Let’s start with some of the times that WE can help you with, we’ll go over everything so get ready. Starting with the basics and a VISUAL life saver….literally. Wiper blades are one of the most neglected parts on a vehicle, weather that be waiting until the last minute to leave for work and scraping them over an iced windshield. Not replacing them when they are streaky, COULD cause snow and ice buildup faster. Since wipers are made of rubber, tears and scratches in them can cause snow and ice to get stuck in there and begin to build up. Ice covered wiper blades can lead to an unclear windshield or even a frantic turn off the road to attempt to clean them off, which ideally ISN’T safe. We can take a look ahead of time and make sure that you are ready to wipe away anything for a clean and clear view. Your battery takes a toll in the winter, even though they are rated for low temperatures, we live in a changing environment so it’s important to make sure that it has a good charge. Having lower, sometimes freezing temperatures actually slows down the chemical reaction in your battery, weakening the power it distributes.
During your annual Pennsylvania State Inspection, we check your battery, usually, we can tell you that you will need a new one before winter. If your inspection was done in the summer, no worries, we’ll test it while doing our courtesy check and you will receive all of the information we collect. Speaking of freezing temperatures, next up is your belts and hoses. Having the proper mixture in your cooling system is a KEY factor in making sure your hoses don’t freeze. Again, during the summer it’s easier to “add some water” to a radiator. During the winter we all know what happens to water when it gets below a certain temperature. Having too much water in your antifreeze could lead to it freezing and taking a toll on your engine. An overheated engine in the winter won’t react the same way as it does in the summer. The steam that usually indicates that your engine is overheating, will be a solid block in the hose, which may end up seizing your engine. During our courtesy inspection, we test the level of water in your antifreeze. If it drops below a certain level, we may just recommend a coolant flush. When it comes to your belts, well you could be potentially stuck for a little while. In order to keep your engine running properly, your belts need to be free of any cracks and tears. Having your serpentine belt break in cold months isn’t going to be fun. Your serpentine belt is what powers your alternator, A/C compressor, steering pump and in a few vehicles, it even incorporates the water pump.
Now, cold weather conditions don’t really affect your brakes BUT it is super important to have them checked out to make sure they are in good condition. While snow and ice makes stopping a bit trickier, if even possible. Having properly cared for Brakes is crucial to that scenario regardless of the weather. Your ABS (anti-lock brake system) light may flash, and your brake pedal may feel like it’s pulsating or begins to make a grinding noise. Brakes have to work harder in the snow and ice in order to stop your vehicle, which can cause them to wear down a little faster than in the summer. Again, during your inspection we will check your brakes to make sure they are in good condition, of all times the winter is the time we have the most torturous road conditions.
Tires, the most important part in keeping traction in the snow. Hence why, if they are getting worn down at Inspection time, we recommend to get them taken care of before winter. The deep grooves in your tires actually serve a purpose, so the more they get worn down, the less effective they are. These tread grooves are meant to help water or snow be expelled from underneath the tire to help prevent hydroplaning or sliding. Regardless, there are some occasions where even if you have winter tires, there is no match for an icy road. That’s why making sure your tires have a good tread depth left to get you through those conditions.
Our last thing on the list is something everyone can do without bringing your vehicle to us. Making sure you are prepared for any situation in the winter is super important. Get together an emergency kit JUST IN CASE, you were to get stuck and could end up being there for a little while. With last year’s winter, we saw first hand how quickly it accumulates and there is NEVER a way of knowing if or when you’ll get stuck on the road. Having an emergency kit during the winter is just as important as having a First Aid kit and jumper cables in your vehicle at any time! Keeping an extra heavy coat or wool blanket will help keep you warm incase you are stuck for longer than expected. Also keep a solar powered charger for your phone to stay in contact with your people to let them know your whereabouts and that you are okay! Snacks, water, even extra hats and gloves are great to keep in there as well. Really, you can’t go wrong with getting a kit together. If you have kids, pack some toys or books to keep them distracted as well. You can add or take away anything that doesn’t work for you, but you know what you would need in an emergency. It’s definitely a peace of mind knowing that in any situation, you are prepared.