Vehicle preparation for winter season

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Myles Stepp
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
It's that time of year again when the temperature begins to change and we all need to prepare our vehicles accordingly.
You don't want be in the position to tell your boss that you were five minutes late because you didn't have an ice scraper for the frost on your windshield.
Here are a few things you should consider checking before this winter season begins.
· Tire pressure and wear of traction
· Engine coolant levels
· Ensuring your battery is in condition
· Windshield and wiper treatment
· Keep an emergency kit inside the vehicle

One significant change to a vehicle in cold weather is the tires. As the temperature drops, so will the pressure in your tires. For every decrease of 10 degrees Fahrenheit in ambient temperature your tire loses approximately one pound per square inch or psi. With tire deflation also comes lack of traction. Four-wheel drive, salt, non-clumping kitty litter and chains around the tires are recommended for driving in heavy snow.

Consider using thinner engine oil to make it easier for your car to start in the freezing weather. The oil won't circulate very well at a high-viscosity level, and if the oil is too thick, cooler temperatures will cause thicker oil to be harder for the engine to move, and if the engine doesn't get the proper lubrication and could lead to many problems down the road.

During the hot summer months water may be fine, but if you were to put nothing but water in your engine coolant reservoir, the vehicles radiator would freeze at 32 degrees. Since water expands when it freezes, it could crack the engine block, radiator and possibly the water pump. If you mix antifreeze to a 50:50 ratio, the mixture won't freeze until negative 34 degrees, and most antifreeze sold in stores is already pre-mixed, but be sure to read the label before purchasing the product.

You should also check the battery regardless of the temperature outside. Batteries give little warning before they die and the cold can reduce the vehicle's battery power up to 50 percent. You should have it inspected by an auto shop.

Visibility is key while operating a motor vehicle. The life expectancy of windshield wipers is about one year so you should replace them annually, and you should also consider mixing de-icer fluid with your regular wiper fluid for the winter season. De-icer fluid can be bought at your local auto parts store.

Most importantly, having an emergency kit in the car would be very handy on a roadside breakdown. 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 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 vehicle up-keep, visit your local auto shop.