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How to Winterize Your Car

How to Winterize Your Car

The cold is coming and drivers are beginning to winterize their cars. Preparing your car for winter is not just important for the longevity of your vehicle. More important is the safety of you and your passengers. Follow these steps to winterize your car and ensure this winter is a safe one.

1. Service Your Brakes

In terms of safety, ensuring the effectiveness of your brakes is probably the most important part of winterizing your car. Unless you have a strong mechanical background, it’s probably best to have a car repair shop check your brakes for you. They’ll look for worn brake pads, which may be making a squeaking sound. They’ll check your calipers to ensure your car drives straight and doesn’t pull you in one direction or the other. They’ll check if the rotars are warped, which might cause the antilock brakes to vibrate. They’ll also check the hydraulic system to make sure you don’t have to push down too far in order to brake.

2. Service Your Battery

In terms of safety during winter driving, having a reliable battery is almost as important as having reliable brakes. If you get stranded in the snow off the beaten path, a working battery could save your life. Check the terminals to make sure they’re clean. You don’t want any corrosion or dirt on the terminals which may deaden the connectivity of the battery. A wire brush will usually do the trick to clean them. Have you jump started your car at all recently? If your battery can die in the city, it can also die on a lonely country road. When you’re stranded in the snow, the last thing you’ll care about is the $50-100 to replace an old battery.

3. Ensure Excellent Visibility

Visibility is important. When it starts hailing, raining heavily or snowing, you want to make sure your windshield is clear. Windshield wipers usually have a shelf life of one year, according to manufacturers. Make it a habit to buy new wipers at the start of winter each year. While you’re at it, top up your windshield wiper fluid. Plain water won’t do the trick at this time of year because it freezes. Also make sure your heater and defroster are working properly so you can keep the windshield nice and clear. If you notice anything wrong mechanically, you may want to take your car to the service station to get checked out.

4. Consider Snow Tires

If you’re in a rain storm and need to make an emergency stop, your car may ‘hydroplane’ along the road. If there’s snow on the ground or ice, braking can be even more difficult. The difficulty is compounded when you add hills or bends. Winter tires, or even four season tires, offer much more traction than your regular summer tires and are an important safety feature. If you plan on doing any country or highway driving this winter, replacing your summer tires with something with more traction is a good idea.

5. Check Your Anti-Freeze

Aim for a 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. This will prevent the mixture from freezing even at ridiculously cold temperatures. It’s easy to check the status of the mixture with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which you can pick up at any auto parts store. If the mixture is off, your cooling system should be drained and refilled or flushed. Be sure you’re equipped to dispose of your old antifreeze properly if you do this job yourself. It can’t just be poured down the drain.

6. Check Your Belts and Hoses

As your belts wear out, they will lose traction and elasticity meaning your engine is working harder to perform the same tasks. When they finally crack, your car won’t move. Hoses can also dry out and crack, meaning important fluids and gases won’t get to where they’re supposed to be. Belts and hoses can wear out even in new cars due to changes in weather. It’s important to have them checked before winter sets in.

7. Service Your Car

Are you approaching the time for a 30,000-km full service for your vehicle? Getting it done before winter is far better than leaving it till spring. Winter is the most hazardous time to be driving and you want your car to be in top shape. Winter is also tough on any vehicle, so getting it serviced before it sets in will give your car a longer life. The full service should include an oil change, and the oil used should have the right viscosity (thickness) for your vehicle at this time of year. Oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if it’s too thick it won’t keep your engine properly lubricated. At Galaxy Motors, our full service auto repair shop is certified for just this kind of work, and our experienced staff follows a process for winterizing vehicles. Our repair shop is located in Colwood at 1772 Island Highway and our clients come from Victoria and Langford. Book an appointment online, or call us today to speak with a representative: 1-250 478-7603

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