Stay Cool During the Cold With These Tech Tips
Dear TTAC Readers,
Thank you so much for your patience over the past couple of weeks of my absence while I have been dealing with family issues. Unfortunately, time is what it is and family members get old and as much as we try and prepare ourselves, it still happens.
For this week I would like to talk about a subject I’m sure has been covered in the past but is always good to touch up on when the seasons change.
That’s right let’s go ahead and talk about things to check and make sure of for the winter months that are soon to be with us.
Depending on where you live will dictate the importance of certain checkpoints of your vehicle. A good amount of these should be on a routine maintenance schedule but let’s touch on what you should swing an eye on for the winter. If you live in a much colder climate then most of these will be much more important than say if you live down south where it does not get that cold.
Let’s go ahead and start under the hood where there are several types of fluids that are worth checking on. One of which is the windscreen washer fluid, it is very important that the freezing threshold is lower than what you can expect in the deepest of winters where you live. You will be able to buy some with a deicing additive that will help on those cold frosty days.
Antifreeze/coolant is also a big one to check in your vehicle, as long as you actually have a radiator and you are not running an older air-cooled car like some of us do. Go out and get yourself an ethylene glycol antifreeze tester if you do not already have one, you won’t use it often but when it is needed the use of it is quite good. With that go ahead and test the antifreeze to make sure that it can keep up with any sort of situation and not freeze. Any sort of bought 50/50 antifreeze will keep up with the norms that we see during the deep winter, but it is always good to have peace of mind knowing that it will do its job.
Check the date on the battery and if you have the ability to test the cranking amps, I would highly recommend that. Older batteries that start to get tired will commonly fail when it gets really cold out and getting stranded somewhere with a dead battery in the cold of winter is in no way fun!
Also, while you are in there do a good visual scan of any of the other parts of the engine, make sure belts look good, hoses, and pretty much all the normal items that should be inspected on a regular basis.
Besides the mechanical bits of your car, it is a good idea to make sure you have the right tires for the conditions and that the current condition of your tires is up to the job, worn out tires will not provide the type of traction to safely drive on and should be replaced. Also, a good thing is to be aware of the compound of the tires that you are running on your vehicle. A majority of vehicles out there on the road have an all-season tire that for the most part will work, but in the much colder areas, a good winter tire that has a softer compound that won’t get rock hard when it gets freezing is best. While checking your tires make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated, that is if you actually have a spare, and make sure your tire-changing tools are all there.
After all of this, you really should do a quick walk around to make sure your lamps are all working and if you have fog lamps that they are operational. Take a look at your wipers and if they are splitting or getting worn out you should replace them. There are a couple of things that are a good idea, in general, to keep in the trunk or storage area of your vehicle. A spare jacket or a blanket, some gloves, and jump leads. Oddly enough a package of cat litter can be a huge lifesaver if you are stuck with wheel spin on some ice. You would be amazed at what sprinkling a bit in front of your drive tires will do for you.
Overall, these are just a couple of quick and easy things to check that will make your life a bit easier come the cold days of winter. Granted there are more in-depth things as well, but I didn’t want to overdo it with information.
Stay safe out there and enjoy the season.
If you have a specific tech question please feel free to email me at Carysgarage@gmail.com.
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@Cary, nice writeup, thanks.
Last time I tried to buy commercial washer fluid, all they had in stock was the useless 'summer' version, so I finally went ahead and bought the ingredients to mix my own (had been kicking the idea around for years). It is getting rave reviews from at least one family member.
1 gallon distilled water, 8 oz rubbing alcohol (91% isopropyl; go heavier depending on temperature), few drops of castile soap
One doesn't need windshield washer fluid when it gets extremely cold. -45 C/F washer fluid won't freeze in your vehicle but once it hits your windshield and the Alcohol evaporates, your window freezes over and you can't see. If the roads are slushy from de-icing chemicals, that's when you need windshield antifreeze fluid. Once you get much below -15C your windshield won't get dirty.