Preparing your car for winter

Winter Road - Nov Blog 2022

How to Get Your Car is Ready for Winter

November is here. Have you inspected your vehicle lately? We all know that winter is an important time to have your car in tip-top condition so you don’t find yourself in an untimely predicament, stuck on the side of the road with somewhere to be. Here is a list of items you want to inspect this season.

Tire tread
Winter driving with slick worn-down tires is dangerous, decreasing your stopping distance and traction on wet roads. Although most states require you to have a minimum tread depth of 2/32-inch, truly, how often do you go out there with a measuring device and actually check? Studies show that any tread under 4/32 inches is dangerous, causing slideouts. A simple slip into a curb can cause damage to your suspension and steering components; even at the slow speed of 5 MPH, you can end up with over $1,500 worth of repairs to your car.

Even if your insurance covers the cost, you are still faced with having an at-fault accident on your record, raising your premiums for years to come, plus the cost of your deductible. We recommend that you save the headache and be proactive with your tire tread and have them checked regularly.

Battery Life
Car batteries are known to have a short lifespan, so be sure to pop the hood and check the date. Our ASE Certified team at Foothill is happy to test your battery for you if you question its starting ability. Many battery testers have differing abilities, and some are specific to a certain battery type. Not only can you test the voltage of your battery, but you can also test internal resistance and conductance. This type of tester also checks your starter and alternator. This may be a good time to invest in a battery booster to keep on hand as a backup plan. Who knows, perhaps you will help a friend out in their time of need, not to mention the peace of mind it gives you.

While talking about batteries, let’s take a peek at your battery terminals. Corrosion, that white or green hard foam on your battery posts and terminals, can cause issues when trying to start your car, especially if it is cold outside. If you find corrosion under the hood, you will want to disconnect the battery by removing the negative cable first and then the positive side. Take a wire brush or cleaning tool and scrub that gunk off. Once both the post and the terminals are shining once again, wipe all the surfaces clean before reinstalling the positive cable and then the negative cable. There are special battery terminal protectant sprays you can purchase to use. This helps with conductivity as well as preventing future corrosion build-up

Window Track Lubrication
How often do you think about lubricating your window tracks? Maybe never? Most of us take our window function for granted and don’t think about maintaining the track; however, if the track drags, you can damage your regulator cables which get pricy to replace. An easy way to avoid this issue is by using a dry Teflon or silicone spray lubricant. All you have to do is lower the window and aim for both the front and back of the window track. Be sure to use the spray liberally, so it drips down the entire track. Once you have sprayed the lubricant, run your windows up and down a couple of times to spread the spray throughout the entire track. Next, you will want to wash your window to remove any spray that ended up on the glass.

Weather Stripping Lubrication
Have you ever been in cold weather and had difficulty opening your door? This is caused by moisture seeping between your door and the weatherstripping. It is easy to avoid this by maintaining your weather stripping with spray silicone. Keep in mind you want to avoid any spray getting inside your car, so it is often best to spray onto a cloth and wipe all of your weather stripp9ing down and be sure to wipe down the mating surface to your weatherstripping.

Door Lock Lubrication
Although most of us have automatic locks, we still need to maintain the keyed entries to keep them from corroding. If your key FOB ever dies, guess what? You will be locked out, and nobody wants that. We recommend using a dry Teflon spray or a graphite lock lubricant in the keyway. First, shake the can and then spray it into the lock cylinder. Once the solvent evaporates, your internal lock parts will be smooth like butter.

Lubricate those Hatches and Hinges
If you are forced to pop your hood, things are likely already not going your way. Now imagine your hood latch sticking on you. The latch is located right behind the grill and often is on the front line for salt spray coming off tires from the car in front of you. Preventing corrosion is easy when you lubricate the latch every season. All you have to do is pop the hood, spray lubricant into the latch and spring and then open and close the hood a few times.

Is it Time for Winter tires?
Winter tires can save you from disaster. They are proven to stop you 33%, which is up to 30 feet of stopping space, and on ice and snow, they are 48% faster in stopping you. That can mean the difference between life and death! Yes, there is added cost in having a full spare set of winter tires on hand, but what is the cost to your safety? A set of spare tires is most likely less than your insurance deductible.

Coolant Inspection
Not only does your coolant keep your engine from freezing and cracking, but it also lubricates the water pump with anti-corrosion properties. Testers are inexpensive and can extend the life of your car.

Winter Wiper Blades
Standard wiper blades can get clogged up, leaving big streaks on your windshield. Did you know that winter wiper blades can solve this issue? They have a special rubber boot that encases the blad, preventing ice and snow from sticking. Wiper blades are easy to swap out and significantly improve your view.

Hood Lift Check
Have you noticed your hood struggling to stay open when it is warm? How about in cold weather, your hood not staying up? Your lifts may be beginning to fail. Lifts are a relatively straight forward replacement; however, the left and right sides do differ, so be sure to look closely at the label.

Cabin Air Filter Replacement
It is easy to overlook this wear part that not only keeps your lungs clean, it also helps your engine breathe better. When your air filter is dirty, airflow is reduced, shredding the blower motor and resister. The cost is about $20, which sure beats a $400 blower motor.

Now that your vehicle is looked after, it is time to make sure you have everything you need in your car in case of an emergency. You will want to pack pens, pencils, warm clothes, a simple tool kit with screwdrivers, a wrench, and some duct tape, to get you by in a pinch. Be sure to pack a flashlight! A can of fix-a-flat, a small first aid kit, and a foldable shovel will have you feeling ready to take on any challenge that may come your way. And who knows, perhaps it will be you saving the day for a friend in need.

If it feels like too much to take all of this on yourself, the experts at Foothill Auto Service are here to help with any of your preventive maintenance needs. With over 100 years of combined experience, our highly trained ASE-Certified technicians are here to help, so give us a call today!

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Written by Foothill Auto Service