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Essential Winter Car Maintenance Tips

Winter Car Maintenance Tips - Man checking the tires of a car
Christine Ellis
Christine Ellis
October 14, 2022

With winter approaching, maintaining your vehicle during the cold winter months is essential, so make sure your car is in peak condition.

To help simplify what to do to guarantee your vehicle is ready for the winter months, you only need to follow the winter car maintenance tips below.

You can use this checklist of items to ensure you don't miss a thing, from selecting the best snow tires and wiper blades to having the phone number of reliable repair shops in the unfortunate event of a blown tire, engine breakdown, or accident.

Check Battery Function

Checking the car battery

The first item on this car care tips list is to check your battery's function. Not being able to start your car when the weather turns freezing can leave you stranded for hours.

If you don't have the tools and equipment to check the battery, set up an appointment with an auto repair shop that offers affordable service to have them run it through diagnostic testing that will indicate the life and power left in the unit.

Replace weak or old batteries with the best model you can afford. The stronger the cranking amps the battery can provide, the less chance of your car not starting on cold days when you need it most.

Install Winter Tires

No matter if your car is two or four-wheel drive, having winter season tires can improve traction in snow, heavy rain, or sleet so you can stop and drive more safely.

Cold temperatures can also affect tire pressure, so check the level weekly if your car doesn't have a low-pressure alert on the dash. For every ten degrees, the temp falls, and tires lose a pound of pressure.

Underinflated tires can cause blowouts or increase stopping distances on slippery roadways. Auto parts stores sell inexpensive tire pressure gauges to keep in your glove box for quick check-ups.

All-season tires are ok for places like Southern California, where the weather stays above 45°F through most of the winter. However, consider special winter tires with upgraded tread design and rubber material that offer the highest traction if you drive in snow and ice.

Test The Climate Control System

Take a few minutes before cold weather sets in to go through your car's climate control settings to ensure the heater is working correctly.

For example, feel that the defroster is blowing hot air out the front and rear windows vents or that the heating elements inside the panes are warming up. If you detect any issues, have the system repaired as soon as possible.

Replace Wiper Blades

Replacing the wiper blades

Wiper blades have a lifespan of around six to nine months with regular use, so replacing them when you see streaking or skipping can improve visibility during rain, sleet, and snow and help you avoid accidents.

Auto parts stores offer a wide variety of quality wiper blade replacements to fit all makes and models of cars, and most have staff willing to swap them out on the spot for no charge.

Check and Clean Lights

One of the most forgotten winter maintenance tips is to check your vehicle's interior and exterior lights and lenses. Replace burnt-out bulbs and polish up foggy lenses so your lights are more visible to other drivers.

Check Fluid Levels and Hose Conditions

Windshield Wiper Fluid

Routinely check your washer fluid level and carry extra in your car because salt, dirt, and snow will have you cleaning your windshield more often. Switch to a winter blend that includes anti-freeze to help keep your windows free of ice.


Changing Car Oil

Oil can get thick when the temperature drops, making it hard for your engine to start and run correctly. Change the oil and filter before winter and ensure you're filling your vehicle with the oil viscosity and brand recommended in your owner's manual.

Transmission Fluid and Brake Fluid

Winter car maintenance tips must include checking tranny and brake fluids to ensure they are clean and filled to the correct level. If not, either hit the auto parts store and DIY a top-off or flush or take your car into a mechanic or service center and leave the task to the experts.

Radiator Fluid

Antifreeze is critical for winter driving, especially if you live in northern regions. A mix of 50% antifreeze and 50% water should suffice for less harsh weather conditions.

However, if you drive where temperatures routinely fall below zero, you may need to increase the ratio to 60% or even 70% antifreeze to keep the engine running smoothly. Please stay at or under the 70% antifreeze/30% water ratio, as damage to your radiator can occur above this level.

Hoses and Fittings

Hoses and fittings will eventually dry out and can crack or leak fluids while driving, leading to potential breakdowns and engine damage. Having all the hoses inspected before winter and replacing those showing signs of wear is another critical car care tip you should follow.

Build An Emergency Survival Kit

Getting into an accident or stranded with a breakdown during winter can turn dangerous quickly. That is why it's smart to create a kit full of essential gear that will keep vehicle occupants warm or assist in repairs until help arrives, such as:

  1. First-aid kit
  2. Thermal blankets
  3. Flashlight with backup batteries/charger
  4. Road flares and traffic deflectors
  5. Jumper cables
  6. Cell phone charger/power stick
  7. Multi-tool/Swiss Army Knife
  8. Sand or kitty litter
  9. De-icer spray and ice scraper
  10. Shovel
  11. Extra water and snack bars

Safely Take On Winter Driving

Please prepare your car for possibly treacherous driving conditions before cold weather sets in. Have an emergency kit ready, keep your gas tank full, and follow these winter car maintenance tips for safer winter travel.
To help you get your vehicle winter-ready, make an appointment today for expert service with the pros at D-1 Auto Body. A pre-winter check-up will give you peace of mind this winter!