Is winter bad for cars?

car on the road

Getting winter ready

Got your firewood stocked up, and the central heat unit or furnace checked out and ready for the winter. Bought some hot chocolate mix and a box of popcorn. You are set and ready for Old Man Winter. Did you winterize your car too? 

Yes, cars need some pre-winter things done to them, the ones you drive every day, and the ones that you may store for the winter. How do I winterize my car for winter? Here we have a winterize your car checklist of  things to winterize your car before Old Man Winter arrives: 

  • Wiper Blades: Over time, wiper blades dry out and become cracked and split. This gives you wiper blades that are slow and squeaky and almost useless, which is not what you need when you get off work and have to drive home in the rain or snow and on ice.  Check with your mechanic for the best type of blades to have for winter weather driving. 
  • Tire Air Pressure: Have your mechanic check the tire pressure as recommended by the tire manufacturer for your specific vehicle. When the roads get icy, you want good tires with proper air inflation so that your car is stable on the road. 
  • Tire Tread: Speaking of tires, have your mechanic check the tire tread too. You could have the right amount of air, but that won’t do you much good if the tread is thin. This part of winterizing your car is important, even though it may seem minute. 
  • Winter Tires: In areas where there are constant ice and snow, winterize your car with snow tires or all-season tires to get extra traction on icy, snow-covered terrain.  Your mechanic should advise you if your tire tread is sufficient or if you need a different winter tire. 
  • Winter Tools: Winterize your car by supplying it with booster cables, an ice scraper, gloves, and other winter tools that are in easy access. If you live in areas where the snow tends to get deep, put a cat litter and a shovel in your trunk. 
  • Battery Check: It’s always been thought that winter is the hardest on a car battery, and while that is true to some extent, summer is harder. The scorching temperatures can drain a battery, so make sure your battery is full of charge and ready for winter. Have your mechanic check the cables and the connections, and if your battery is on the cusp of its expiration date, consider buying a new one now before you get stuck roadside in the dark. 
  • Oil Change: As motor oil ages, it becomes thicker and, in the winter, even thicker. When the oil is too thick, it can’t work like it needs to. Winterize your car, have the oil changed before winter arrives, and ask the technician to check all the fluids. 
  • The Doors: When the weather is really cold, sometimes car doors get stuck. Do a thorough cleaning with oil in the keyholes and hinges.  This goes for the hood and trunk too.
  • The Coolant Fresh: It isn’t called antifreeze for nothing! Another important thing to winterize your car is to make sure your car has ample amount recommended by the manufacturer or your mechanic. If it hasn’t been completely changed out in a while, it may be time to have it drained, and fresh antifreeze added. 
  • Heater Flush: Flushing the heater will winterize your car engine by cleaning the heater core out. The engine coolant can’t work right if it can’t circulate, which means your car isn’t going to warm up very quickly on those cold mornings. 

Does my car need antifreeze in the winter?

Yes! For winter driving, make sure you have your car’s cooling system checked, and it has the proper amount of antifreeze is an essential part of the process of winterizing your car. The cooling system includes the heater core, hoses, radiator, thermostat, and water pump.  Without antifreeze, the water in the motor will freeze and crack the engine. Antifreeze contains anti-corrosion agents that keep the heater core and radiator from having a limescale build-up inside. When that happens, your car’s interior can’t heat up quickly or not at all.

Should you warm up your car?

Well, there are mixed opinions on that matter. Before 1980 to 1990, older cars were carbureted, and warming up period was needed for the car to get the proper air and fuel mix to run right. Today, cars are fuel injected, and that warming up period isn’t necessary. 

However, regardless of the car’s age, there are car enthusiasts, some mechanics, and shade tree mechanics that say you should allow your car to run for a minute before putting it in gear and driving off. Why?  It gives the oil a chance to get up to the top of the motor (internally) and get the pistons, rods, and valves lubricated.  During winter, oil tends to thicken up, so warming could be more crucial in some cars.  This is why getting the winterize your car process should include getting the oil changed, so the oil is fresh. Again, this is a back-n-forth opinion, and best to read the owner’s manual for your car and/or ask your mechanic. 

How often should I start my car in cold weather?

To keep the battery healthy, a part of winterizing your car should include daily starting is recommended by most mechanics, even if you don’t drive it daily. Simply letting the engine run for a few minutes each day will keep the battery charged. If you have an old battery, daily starting won’t do it much good, and you can probably expect to buy a new battery before winter is over. 

To winterize your car for storage and keep the battery healthy is to disconnect it from the cables. This will require you to reset the clock and your radio stations when you bring the car out again, but your battery should be charged and healthy! 

Is frost bad for car paint?

Winter conditions aren’t good for a car, especially if it has a poor paint job. If there are any inconsistencies in the paint job or the protective layer, cold temperatures, frost, or ice can cause the paint to bubble and warp. 

In addition to the temperatures, the salt on the road can erode the paint and the undercarriage. The best solution to winterize your car and prevent this from happening is to keep your car in the garage and not drive. Unfortunately, that isn’t feasible for most of us, so keep your car washed off as much as possible during the winter to get the salt off the pain and undercarriage. 

interior of car

Why should you winterize your car?

This is another question that has two sides to the answer.  Some mechanics say that you should winterize your car to protect it against harsh conditions. This is especially so with the antifreeze, snow tires, and windshield wipers. When a car isn’t winterized, you’re at a higher risk of breakdowns and failures. The other mechanics will tell you that any car from 1990 and up and has had the routine maintenance performed, it isn’t necessary to winterize your car. Get your car winter ready. Call 469-904-0734 today.