Is your vehicle winterized?

  • Published
  • By 97th Air Mobility Wing Staff
  • Safety Flight
It's that time of the year when the temperature begins to drop and we all need to prepare our vehicles accordingly.

You don't want be that person who is late to work because you didn't have an ice scraper for the frost on your windshield.

Here are a few things you should check for this winter season:

· Tire pressure and wear of traction
· Engine oil
· Battery
· Windshield wiper treatment
· Antifreeze mixture

The condition of your car's tires is critical during the winter. Whether the tires are worn or are high-performance tires, braking, acceleration and handling all suffer on slippery roads. Because of reduced vehicle capabilities, the likelihood of a crash increases. All-season tires will work to a certain point, but their effectiveness depends on their tread depth.

Tire pressure is especially important during the winter. Traction is often at a minimum due to wet or snowy conditions. It's critical to have properly inflated tires, which guarantees the best possible contact between the tire and the road. A properly inflated tire will also help protect against wheel damage that might occur as the vehicle drives over potholes. Read your owner's manual to find the correct tire pressure.

Consider using thinner engine oil to make it easier for your car to start in the freezing weather. This may be more necessary on older vehicles, since many new cars already come with oil that's thin enough to withstand the winter. Even when the oil is cold, it is still not too thick for proper engine lubrication. Keep in mind that oil can also be too thin.

Batteries give little notice before they die, and they absolutely love to expire at the worst possible moment. Extremely cold temperatures can reduce a vehicle battery power by up to 50 percent. If your vehicle battery is older than three years, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility. Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion. If the posts are corroded, you can clean them with baking soda, water and a small wire brush.

Winter will put your vehicle's windshield defrosters to the test. It's a good idea to check that they are in working order. While you're at it, check the air conditioner, too. An easy way to speed the defrost process is to turn on the air conditioner. And now is a good time to make sure your heating system works.

The ideal mixture of antifreeze and water inside your vehicle radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot and cold weather performance can suffer. If you were to put pure water in your vehicle's radiator, it would freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you combine the water with an equal amount of antifreeze, the new mixture won't freeze until -34 F.

Most antifreeze you'll find in stores already come pre-mixed, which makes this process much easier. You can check the composition of a radiator's mixture by using an antifreeze tester, which is available at auto parts stores and is inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture is off, adjust it by adding more antifreeze.

Most importantly, keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case of a roadside breakdown or other emergencies
Auto supply stores sell pre-assembled kits, but it is also recommended to include extra flashlights, batteries, blankets, warm clothes, and for longer trips consider non-perishable food and water.

No matter the temperature, you should always have your vehicle inspected on a regular basis by a professional or an auto shop.
For more information on winterizing your car, contact your local auto shop or visit