Well, down here in Locust Grove, just outside Atlanta, it’s been snowing and storming, with ice on the roads, and folks being stranded for hours and hours. We usually don’t see such severe weather down here, so I thought this was a great time to put together some stuff I think is important to stay safe on the road in these conditions!
To get inspired, I decided to take another look at a recent Winter Car Care video I created with the help of my friends at STA-BIL.
All of that is important, but I didn’t have time to get everything on video. So, here’s a handy checklist to go over before you head on your next winter-weather drive:
Battery / Power:
- If it’s old, worn, or has any history of being unrelabile, change the battery before you set out on the road.
- Make sure the cables are not loose, frayed, or otherwise deteriorating.
- Check the battery and cables for any signs of corrosion.
Under The Hood:
- Check the status of your “S belt”, or serpentine belt..
- Check, and if needed, fill your fluids.
- Check, and if needed, fill your antifreeze.
- Check, and if needed, top off your oil.
Additional preventative measures:
- Some mechanics recommend adding a can of HEET or other fuel-line antifreeze to the gas tank to eliminate water from the fuel lines.
- Keeping the gas tank at half filled can help prevent a fuel line freeze as well.
- Buy an emergency kit with cables, first aid kit, flares and battery powered air compressor
- Check the clarity of all your lights.
- Have the correct tire pressure.
- DO NOT USE THE PSI listed on the TIRE! That’s max capacity for the tire, not for your car’s specific load.
- Check your wipers, and if possible try to use winter wipers.
- Shooting WD-40 into the locks can help prevent them from freezing overnight. Also, keeping the door’s gaskets lubed with silicone or WD can keep the door from freezing to the frame. Consider buying a deicer and keeping it handy!
Now that we’ve got you on the road with your vehicle in top condition and prepared for the adverse conditions, it’s time to get on the road!
Starting In The Cold:
- The number one thing you should do for the night is shut off all accessories—the heat, radio, interior lights—any power source that could be a drain for the battery.
- If you don’t have access to a garage, try parking with the hood as near a building as possible to be shielded from the wind. Also, buildings are warmer than out in the open, and you’ll be warmer too.
- If the car doesn’t start after 15-20 seconds of trying, let the car sit for 2 minutes before trying again.
Car Won’t Start? Jumping Advice:
- Our rule is red to dead, black to ground. Connect the red cable to the positive node on the live battery, and then connect it to the dead node; then connect the black or negative to the live node and ground it on a piece of metal on the hood frame of the dead car.
- Let it charge for two minutes, then give the dead car a start.
- Let the car run for a bit.
- Reverse the process for removing the cables.
- DON’T let the clamps touch; the spark can be shocking.
If you need a jump, please be careful. Check your owner’s manual at the very least. Or YouTube!
Once you’re started up, the challenges of winter have just begun! Letting the car warm up is a comfort more for us than the car, so jump in and let’s get on the road and prepare for the obstacles ahead.
Warming Your Car & Idling:
- Best practice is to start the car, then drive very simply until the oil gets heated. It’ll heat faster driving at slow speeds without sudden acceleration than just idling in your drive.
- In extreme cold, however, many professionals recommend idling for a minute or two.
- Idling for 10-15 minutes, as Midwesterners are prone to do, could dilute the oil with unburned fuel, resulting in increased engine wear. And it wastes gas.
- Keep the front defroster cranked.
- Clear all snow and ice from windshields and lights.
- If wiper fluid isn’t squirting and the reservoir is full, then you might need to replace the check valve.
With this advice, you and your vehicle should be prepared to take on the winter and get you and your family where you need to go safely! Be safe, everyone…
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