Maybe you’ve seen ads in the paper. Or, while you wait to have your car fixed you see a sign suggesting that you “Winterize your Car, Now!” There are all kinds of deals as winter approaches, coupons in newspapers and phonebooks. There are these Valpak Savings mailings that have groups of coupons and several of them are for car services. We all love getting a good deal and coupons help us get a deal. What is this winterization and is it worth it? It is always a good idea to take care of your car. I love the Blue Chariot and try to take care of this fine ride, as needed. Winterization for the car can be handled by your friendly service center, assuming that you trust them. Winterizing your car for the people inside should be taken care of by you! What is or should be involved with winterization of a car.
Here are my suggestions.
For the car:
1. Have all fluid levels checked and topped off. (I deal with some individual fluid issues below.)
2. Oil should be changed if it is over 3000 miles since the last change.
3. Tires should be rotated and if you have snow tires those put on the car for the season.
4. Make sure the tire pressure is at the manufacturers recommended specifications. And, that the spare is inflated and part of the rotation unless it is a “donut spare”.
5. Evaluation of anti-freeze, in addition to checking the level, a gauge should be used to see how low the temperature can get with the mixture you have in the car’s radiator and cooling system. You don’t want this to freeze. In the summer sometimes a bunch of water may have been added and the mix of anti-freeze to water is too diluted, to prevent freezing in the winter. If the mixture of anti-freeze and water don’t cover low enough temperatures see next step.
6. If the anti-freeze is old and dirty, or if it is more water and less antifreeze. It may be a good idea to have your service station flush the system and add new anti-freeze, this way you don’t have to wonder if it is OK and worry about it.
7. Other fluid levels should be topped off and if they are dirty you may need to service them, as well. For example, power steering and transmission fluid may be dirty. This is rare but changing them may need to be done.
8. Make sure you have windshield washer fluid that will not freeze. Like anti-freeze, people use water in the windshield reservoir in the summer. So, make sure you fill the windshield washer reservoir with some fluid that won’t freeze. If it is left filled with water it may crack the reservoir when it freezes. And water will certainly freeze in the lines to the windshield, clogging them.
9. Make sure all the cars lights are working including the high beams and directionals.
10. Take the beach chairs out of the trunk and put them away for the winter.
11. Make sure your emergency flashers work and function properly.
12. Make a divider to keep things organized and separated in your trunk.
13. Put additional weight in the trunk to provide extra traction to avoid slipping on ice and snow.
14. Get your car washed, salt from the road sticks better to dirt on a car than it does to clean paint.
15. If after a while into winter your car is covered with salt residue get it washed again.
16. Have salt and other things in your trunk, which you can put under your tires for traction should you get stuck in the snow.
17. Have a good ice scraper and snow shovel in the car for obvious reasons.
18. Tools – you should have a small number of tools in case your car breaks down and you need to fix something. Or if someone stops to help you and they know what to do but have no tools.
19. Duct tape is good for lots of things and can repair hoses and other problems temporarily. Once a friend and I duct taped a hole in a transmission pan and got a car home.
20. Have a pair of jumper cables to jump someone or have someone jump start you. Batteries that are old and marginal in holding their charge seem to die on the coldest days of the year, often a jump will get you going again till you can get your battery checked and or replaced. Jumper Cables At Amazon!
For the People Inside the Car:
1. Clean the car. Remove all that junk that has rolled under the seats and is piled up inside the car. (coffee cups, water bottles, candy wrappers and other crap)
2. Wash the inside of the windows and the entire inside of the car. Yeah, you heard me, it’s no fun but you will like it when it is done. Do it before it is too cold and the cleaner that you use freezes on the glass and dashboard.
3. Vacuum out the floor and seats of the car. Bang the floor mats on the street to free up ground in dirt and then vacuum them as well.
4. Take the CDs that are in your visor or console and bring them all in your house and start bringing out something new to listen to, for a change.
5. Go through the glove compartment and other hiding spots cleaning out stuff from yesteryear. Bring it inside with those CDs you are switching out.
6. Put a list of folks to contact in an emergency in the glove compartment with the registration and insurance card. (put a copy of this list in your purse or wallet, too) Incase, you are incapacitated and can not speak.
7. Buy yourself a cup of coffee with the change you found on the floor of the car.
8. Make sure your registration and insurance cards are the current ones and bring the old one(s) in and trash them.
9. Find that library book in your car, that you were going to return and return it, now.
10. Put your floor mats and new CDs in the car and reset all your knobs and controls to where they should be, since you changed all the knobs and settings cleaning them. The radio especially, so you don’t have a heart attack when the volume is full blast!
11. Get a First Aid Kit and Fire Extinguisher for your car, if you don’t already have them. If you do have them make sure the extinguisher is charged and the First Aid Kit has stuff in it, like, rubber gloves, bandages and bandaids, smelling salt, burn ointment, and other stuff you could use in an emergency. There are some good First Aid Kits at Amazon! Here are Amazon’s Fire Extinguishers!
12. If you don’t have a knife, put one in your First Aid Kit in the event you need to cut something. See my article about knife safety for suggestions handling knives.
13. Put a blanket in the car so you can keep warm in the unfortunate event that you break down. I have one that has Velcro straps and stores well in the car.
14. Have a spare pair of sunglasses in the car, sun is very bright on the snow. And if you don’t have your regular ones you will be glad to have this second pair.
15. Put some trail mix bars and or candy bars in the car, you will be happy to have them if you get stuck that there is something to eat.
16. Have flares and signs in case you break down or stop to help someone who has.
17. Have toilet paper and hand wipes in the trunk for emergencies.
18. When riding in the car in winter you and your passengers should always wear your seat belts.
19. Have young children in car seats in the backseat of the car.
20. A spare pair of gloves and an additional hat should be in the car. And a spare jacket if possible. Have some trash bags that can be raincoats in a pinch.
21. Be careful when you are outside your car, in rain and snow. Light clothes can be seen more easily than darks in normal conditions. Dark clothes can be seen more easily in the snow. Fluorescent clothes stand out all the time.
22. Remember that people on snow and ice have a hard time stopping so stay out of the road if you can.
23. Enjoy the road and don’t worry about how others are driving, you don’t need to coach them as you drive. We all should drive our own cars.
I’m sure I missed some suggestions here, go ahead please, share your ideas and suggestions below.