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Is Your Vehicle Ready for Winter?

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I don’t want to say it, but I must….it won’t be long before Jack Frost will be nipping at our nose! It will be time to prepare our homes, get out the winter coats, gloves, hats, but is your vehicle ready for winter?

These 10 tips can keep you and your loved ones save and your vehicle in good working order this winter:

1. Check your oil and oil viscosity. Oil viscosity is the thickness of your oil. As temperatures get colder, your oil thickens and it won’t do its best job of keeping the engine lubricated. Have your oil changed and switch over to a thinner, less viscous, oil. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for the right oil for your vehicle.

2. Change your wiper blades and refill your wiper fluid. Replace your wiper blades. Many brands have “winter blade” models which are specifically built to withstand ice and snow. Also make sure that your washer fluid is topped off and use one that is for winter or de-ice so it won’t freeze. Also check your defroster and heater to ensure they are working properly.

3. Check your battery. Check your battery terminals & cables to make sure they are corrosion-free and the battery has the fluid it needs. If there is a white, powdery substance around the clamps, that’s corrosion. You can clean it off using a mixture of baking soda and water on a toothbrush.  You may even want to have a battery over three years old tested for a proper charge by a certified repair shop.

4. Examine your belts and hoses. Cold weather can weaken belts and hoses. Look for signs of wear and tear and replace them if needed.

5. Check your tire tread and tire pressure. Proper inflation ensures the best possible traction. The air pressure in your tires can drop as the weather becomes colder. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, the tire pressure drops about 1 psi (pound per square inch). Deflated tires will close up the tread and reduce traction. Your owner’s manual can provide you with the suggested pressure. If possible, switch to snow tires for the best traction.

6. Check your anti-freeze mixture. A 50:50 ratio of water to anti-freeze should be kept in your radiator. This will prevent the coolant from freezing in cold temperatures. An inexpensive coolant tester can be purchased at any auto parts store. If the mixture is off, the system should be drained, refilled or flushed. Be kind to the environment and dispose of the old coolant properly!

7. Do you have four-wheel drive? Four-wheel drive can provide better traction on snowy and icy roads. Check the status of your four-wheel drive to ensure it is working properly, especially if it is not used during the summer months. Be sure it engages and disengages easily and all drivers in the household know how to use it.

8. Keep your Fuel Tank full.  Cold and constantly shifting temperatures can cause condensation to form in your gas tank on the walls of a low or empty tank and will drip down into your gas. It will eventually sink to the bottom since it is heavier than the gas and find its way into your fuel lines. If the water freezes in your fuel lines, it will block any flow of gas to your engine and be expensive to repair. Keep your tank full!

9. Debug and wax your vehicle. To protect your vehicle from the harshness of salt and other debris of winter, take time to debug and apply a good coat of wax on the outside of your vehicle. Also having an undercoating applied will protect the underside of your vehicle from the road treatments.

10. Prepare an emergency kit. There is always the possibility of a winter emergency even with all of the best preparation. Gather and store in your vehicle some essential items that you may need in an emergency:

  • A blanket
  • Extra boots and gloves
  • Ice scrapper
  • Snow brush
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Tool kit
  • Tire chains
  • First-aid kit
  • Sand, kitty litter, or salt
  • Extra set of warm clothes
  • Extra water & food
  • Small shovel

What other tips and preparation do you do to keep your vehicle running and in good shape during the winter months? We would love to hear from you! Please post on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BarrsInsurance

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