Cold weather is not far off, and if you want to keep from getting stranded out in the weather, you need to prepare. Preparing for harsh weather is not tricky, but you do need to take the time to think about what your car might need and what you will do if you have a breakdown.
1. Check the Tires
Overlooking the condition of the tires on your car could become a problem once snow is on the road. When the tread starts to get thin, start looking for new tires.
Many areas recommend that you have winter snow tires on your car, and if the roads are icy, studded snow tires will help you navigate. Not every state will allow studded tires, but most have dates that they are approved. The state of Indiana allows studded tires from October 1st until May 1st.
Keeping the all-season tires on your car is okay if you choose to, but rotate the tires and inspect them for any sign of damage before the snow starts. Getting a flat tire is terrible enough in the summertime; you don't want to be trying to change a tire in a snowstorm.
2. Check the Antifreeze
The antifreeze in your car is there to keep the engine running at the right temperature as well as keeping the block, water pump, and radiator from turning into a block of ice. Checking the antifreeze before winter is the only way to know if it will protect your engine. Use a hydrometer (a small tool that looks like a turkey baster with little, colored balls inside) to check the liquid, indicating how low a temperature it will protect the engine to.
Antifreeze that is not up to the task needs replacing with fresh antifreeze. Drain the old antifreeze out of the engine and radiator with the plug in the radiator tank, located on the bottom of the radiator. Once all the antifreeze is out of the system, replace the plug and fill the system with fresh antifreeze.
3. Check the Battery Condition
Batteries are one of the most troublesome parts of the car when the weather gets cold. The cold temperature effects the battery by reducing some of the power output, and since the oil in the engine is thicker when it is cold, that engine is much harder to start.
Getting the battery tested is a start, but you need to know more than just what it will do in warm weather. Load test the battery to simulate what it will deal with in the cold weather.
4. Check the Belts
Another overlooked part of the engine that you should look at is the belts. On most modern cars, only one serpentine belt runs all the engine accessories on the vehicle. A broken belt could be as bad as or worse than a tire problem.
Once the belt breaks, the only electrical power your car will have to run the lights and deliver spark to the engine is the battery. Once the battery is gone, the car will no longer run. Inspect the belts or belt and replace it if you see any signs of damage.
A belt with pieces missing, heavy glazing, or ribs missing from it needs replacing. The belt is not expensive, and if replacing it keeps your car running all winter long, then it was worth the expense.
We realize that not everyone can do these tasks on their own, so if you are in the Muncie area, stop and see us at Broadway Motors Inc., and we will check your car for you. If your car needs some work done, our professional staff can take care of it quickly and efficiently.