Our Rides: Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter
Is your vehicle ready for winter?
When the temperature drops and road conditions change, you are put to the test. Your nerves should be of steel as ice and snow hit the highways across the Upper Midwest. Your vehicle should be able to handle this kind of weather change with ease, right?
Not exactly. Like you, your vehicle should be ready for what the season will throw at you.
This is one “Winter What to Do” that really has to be done sooner than later.
We had the chance to talk to Daniel Gravely, the Service Manager at EuroTech in New Brighton, Minnesota, to see about preparing your vehicle for winter. Here is a rundown of what you have to look for to get it winter-ready.
CHECKING YOUR BATTERY: “One of the first things that Minnesotans are very well-versed in knowing (is) what it’s like to go out to your car and it not starting in the morning,” said Gravely. By checking the battery, you can see whether it will hold a charge. Importantly, it is also smart to check the cables to see if they are in good condition—that also includes the terminal connections.
As for engine block heaters, Gravely stated that “it’s not something that comes on a lot of cars anymore even from the manufacturer. It’s almost a thing of the past, but we do see them here a lot. They are helpful to most individuals. Nowadays it’s less common to have access to a plug-in for them because there’s a lot of street parking and whatnot.” If you feel that it is needed for your vehicle, you can ask your mechanic to have one installed or get one, or get one from an auto parts store.
CHECKING YOUR BELTS AND HOSES: “One of the things we like to check for is of course just checking over the engine compartment and checking out your belts making sure that there’s adequate tension and that there’s not excessive wear on them or that they’re not cracked,” said Gravely.
GET YOUR OIL CHANGED: “A fresh oil change is definitely helpful getting ready for winter, making sure the proper weight of oil is in the vehicle to withstand the cold temperatures,” said Gravely. It is always suggested to go with what the manufacturer recommends for specific oil based on your engine requirements.
CHECK YOUR COOLING SYSTEM: “When we’re checking over your cooling system,” said Gravely, “(Look for) any signs of weak radiator hoses, making sure your coolant is topped off so you get the proper amount of heat in the vehicle, and then just looking and making sure there’s no leaks or any type of residue that we can see from a prior leak so that you’re sealed up properly for the winter.”
CHECK YOUR BRAKES: Gravely explains, “Brakes are very important going into our icy season. Both snow and ice greatly affect our drivability. Checking out brakes, making sure that we have adequate pad left and that they’re in good shape, good working condition, along with our brake fluid. What we want to look for in that is making sure that the brake fluid is clean and is topped off to the proper level.”
CHECK YOUR TIRES – OR, CONSIDER A SET OF WINTER TIRES: “What we’re looking for with tires is making sure that there’s adequate tread depth,” Gravely explains. If you notice the wear bars, it is time to change tires. In fact, a safe amount of tire tread should be more than about an eighth of an inch. “The more tread we have the better we’re off for the winter,” said Gravely.
In regards to winter tires, Gravely explains that “they do have just a much greater grip to the road, but ultimately that’s not within everybody’s price point or budget to have a separate set of wheels, or maybe they don’t have [the] opportunity to store them.” Gravely recommends at least “[a] great all-season tire or a newer all-season tire will be adequate in our weather and our climate.”
MAKE SURE YOUR DEFROSTERS, WIPERS, WINDSHIELD WASHER, AND HEATER WORKS: Gravely recommends to make sure that your defrosters are “working and the windshield wipers are in good shape and that the fluid or the windshield washer is working.” All of these will be critical during the winter months to make sure that the windshield is clear for proper vision outward. The rear defroster, as well.
These tips may seem like common sense, but they are really essential for keeping your vehicle running during the winter. It does not matter whether you have a sedan, an SUV, or a pickup truck: all vehicles will need to get these checked and serviced before tackling the snow, sleet, slush, and ice out on the roads—and on your driveway.
You can perform these functions yourself. If you do, make sure you get the right part numbers and information from your vehicle before doing anything to it. Otherwise, take it to a local mechanic or dealership. You may find some deals on a winter check-up that can save you some money.
Don’t forget this “winter what-to-do” before you do anything this winter!