D.I.Y.: Winterize your car now

Here in Atlanta, we’re fortunate to only have occasional snow and a bit of ice in the winter months. However, that doesn’t mean we get a free pass when it comes to maintaining our cars when temperatures drop. Winterizing your vehicle could help you avoid costly repairs later. Thankfully, much of it you can do yourself. October was fall car care month, but for our purposes, we could hold off another month or so. Now, however, is the time to take care of these steps before winter hits.

Here are some D.I.Y. tips on getting your car ready for the winter.

1. Make sure you have good windshield wiper blades and you’ve refilled the wiper fluid. Don’t use water as it could freeze if it gets cold enough. Thinking of visibility,

2. Check out your battery. I checked mine this weekend and found corrosion on the terminal ends. If you have that problem, clean them off, and add water as well. If your battery is more than four years old, you’ll want to have it checked to make sure it’s maintaining a good charge.

3. Tire pressure is important year round, but when it’s colder, the air in the tires contracts, causing lower tire pressure. Use a pressure gauge to make sure you’re putting the proper amount of air in your tires. While you’re at it, check the air in your spare tire as well.

4. Change the antifreeze to prevent overheating, freeze-ups or other engine problems. Flushing the cooling system isn’t complicated, but does take a little work. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process.

5. Pack the trunk with an emergency winter kit. Granted, it’s unlikely we’ll get snowed in anywhere here, but in the event that your car malfunctions and you have to get out and walk or wait for help, you should have a few essentials that will make the ordeal less difficult — a blanket, flashlight, jumper cables, an ice scraper, gloves, comfortable shoes and if you’re really concerned about ice and snow, kitty litter or sand to help with traction.

There are additional steps you might take if you lived in a colder climate, or tools in your winter kit like a small snow shovel, but for our climate the steps above are sufficient. For now, let’s hope the mild weather hangs around a while longer.

2 comments Add your comment

JoeV

November 18th, 2009
12:28 pm

Don’t forget to “winterize” the exterior of your car as well. Using a synthetic polymer sealant will give your car the protection it needs from fewer washes and winter road elements and can last up to 6 months.

mitzymy

November 18th, 2009
12:46 pm

If you can’t do these things to winterize your car yourself, don’t let the repair shop rip you off. They have a habit of doing that to women. Read up on what has to be done, and tell them when you go in. It will save you money. Don’t just go in and say “winterize my car.” If you do, you are looking at a bill from 200 to 300 dollars. You can easily buy the anti-freeze for the motor and the windshield at your local Auto Zone. You can also purchase a tool that tells you how low the temp has to be before your motor freezes, and how much anti-freeze to add. You can also check your owners’ manual to see how much pressure you should have in your tires, and buy a little tool, and check them yourself. But if you are lazy, or you don’t want to do this, go to Jiffy-Lube and they will do it for a small fee.