10 Ways to Winterize Your Car

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By |2019-12-20T18:31:17-05:00December 20, 2019 - 06:00PM|Maintenance|
Woman Driving in Car in Winter

Credit: Getty / RichLegg

How to Winterize Your Car

Winter driving is among the worst conditions that drivers can encounter. Ice creates slippery roads, and snowfall can make it hard to see you’re traveling. Also, the frigid weather can hurt your car’s performance, and make a breakdown more likely. If you prepare your car for winter driving, you can help prevent mishaps from occurring in icy and snowy conditions. Here are some essential tips for winterizing your car. 

1. Check Your Wiper Blades

If the rubber has cracked, your car’s wipers may leave streaks. This will hurt visibility, creating a safety hazard. Wipe them down with Windex. If that doesn’t work, install new blades if the existing ones are too worn. It’s a good idea to change wiper blades after six months of use.

You may want to install winter wipers. They’re built for optimum performance in frigid weather. Since snow is heavier than rain, greater force is needed to remove it from the windshield. Winter wipers have the strength required to keep your windshield clear, and they’re wrapped in high-grade rubber that’s designed to protect the hinges from accumulating snow and ice. Additionally, they come with frames that are extra-sturdy, and this allows them to clear ice without bending. 
Windshield Wipers

2. Consider Winter Tires

Cold weather can cause the rubber in standard tires to harden, and this hurts their traction. If you live in an area that gets frigid weather often, winter tires may be a good choice. They have special rubber compounds and tread patterns crafted to provide optimum grip on slick roads. 

Truck Snow Tire in Snow

Snow Tire / Credit: Goodyear

3. Check Your Battery

Cold weather reduces battery power, and your car’s battery could fail if it’s in a weakened state. Get it checked before winter rolls around. If your mechanic finds that your battery is weak, have a new one installed to make sure you’re not stranded in the bitter cold. 
Car battery

4. Examine Your Cooling System 

Rubber components in the radiator and heater can crack and leak over time. Check the cooling system, and replace hoses that show signs of damage or wear. 

Hose connecting the car radiator with the engine, In the background the engine compartment.

Credit: Kinek00 / Getty

5. Check Your Wiper Fluid Level 

Make sure there’s enough wiper fluid in your car’s reservoir. Also, choose a wiper fluid with antifreeze properties. This type of fluid will provide better performance in winter months. This is important, since slush from the road can be kicked up onto your windshield and dry there, making it hard to see out. It’s also smart to carry an extra gallon around in your car with you during the winter months.

Man is holding bottle of blue antifreeze in hands and pouring antifreeze liquid for washing car screen

Credit:
Aleksandr Zhurilo / Getty

6. Test Your Coolant

Your car’s coolant helps prevent the engine from freezing up. It needs to be changed every few years so it can properly do its job. Get the coolant tested each year, and change it if it’s dirty. 

Coolant tank with a pink liquid antifreeze of a radiator system in car.

Credit:
Birdlkportfolio / Getty

7. Use the Right Engine Oil 

Engine oil thickens in frigid weather, and this can hurt your engine’s performance. Some carmakers have specific oil recommendations for colder weather. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if this is the case. 
Pouring engine oil

8. Pack a Winter Survival Kit 

If the worst happens and your car breaks down, make sure you what you’ll need to survive with you. Pack a kit that includes water, a blanket, an ice scraper, durable food items, road flares, a phone charger, a flashlight and first aid supplies. Keep this kit on hand at all times during winter driving.

First Aid Bag Standing In The Snow

Credit: Angela Schmidt / Getty

9. Get the Right Car With Carfax

If you’ve recently moved from a warm climate to a cold one, you may simply lack the right vehicle for snowy weather. The rear-wheel-drive sports car you had in California may not work so well in Minnesota. 

Carfax’s Used Car Listings have a ton of great, winter-ready vehicles to choose from, from winter-ready used SUVs to high-riding four-wheel-drive pickup trucks.

And every vehicle in our used car listings comes with a free Carfax Vehicle History Report.

Carfax Used Car Listings 2019

Carfax Used Car Listings / Credit: Carfax

10. Keep Track of Your Car Maintenance With the MyCarfax App

MyCarfax makes it easy to track the maintenance you’ve done to your car. It can also alert you when it’s time to renew your registration, deal with a recall and more.

MyCarfax 2019

MyCarfax / Credit: Carfax

If you have questions about this story, please contact us at Editors@carfax.com

About the Author:

Based in Los Angeles, Warren Clarke got his start in automotive journalism working as an editor at Edmunds.com. Since then, his work has been published in outlets such as the New York Daily News, Car & Driver, Credit Karma, AARP and Ride by Kelley Blue Book. He's written automotive content that includes everything from model overviews to consumer advice articles, and he enjoys providing readers with information that can simplify and enhance their lives.