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6 Tips to Prepare Your Car for Winter Driving
Sledding, hot chocolates, fires by the hearth, tire chains. With winter upon us, the change in season brings with it an unavoidable drop in mercury.
While there are festive advantages to the chilly weather, there are also important measures one should take for smarter driving. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of vehicles, the frost can cause more damage than the common cold. To keep it healthy, here are a few tips to properly prepare your car for winter driving:
Check your engine coolant level and ensure the cooling system is properly filled. If it needs a top off, use a pre-diluted antifreeze or mix in a solution of one part antifreeze with one part water (preferably distilled water to prevent corrosion). If it’s been several years since you’ve serviced the cooling system, flush the system and refill it with the appropriate mixture of antifreeze and distilled water. Inspect the coolant hoses and radiator for wear as well.
Rain, hail, sleet and snow are usually on the winter agenda and old wiper blades dried and cracked from the heat of summer can dramatically impede visibility. A relatively affordable item, new windshield wiper blades are a quick and easy solution to this problem. For colder climates, make sure to have a windshield scraper handy and for low temperatures, add market-approved windshield washer fluid to your windshield washer reservoir.
More viscous oils are great for protection during the summer, but in the winter, a lighter weight will help improve cold engine startup and provide better lubrication, crucial for engine protection. Look for multi-viscosity oils that start with a lower number such as 5W (e.g., 5W-30 or 5W-50). To be safe, consult your owner’s manual for recommended winter oil weights.
As the temperature drops, so does the power output of your car’s battery. If the battery doesn’t have sufficient power to initiate the starter, the result will be a dead car. To avoid this situation, take your car to a local auto shop and get the battery tested. Most shops don’t charge much to test the battery and some will even examine it for free. Replace the battery if necessary.
While the battery is out, clean the battery terminals and connectors with a brush and a mixture of baking soda and water. A dab of petroleum jelly afterwards will help prevent corrosion.
High-performance summer tires work great during the summer. Summer tires in winter however, not so much. While the statement sounds obvious, many forget to change tires with the change of seasons. For milder climates with plenty of rain, all-season tires rated for wet traction should suffice. For harsher winter climates with freezing temperatures, winter tires are a must. Summer tires have next to no grip on frozen roads, taking exponentially more distance to come to a stop. Also, ensure that your tires are properly inflated.
High Quality Gasoline
It’s important to use a high quality gasoline any time of year; especially during the winter, which brings its own challenges and tougher driving conditions. In fact, six leading car automakers – Audi, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen – advocate for a higher standard called the TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline Standard to address the declining quality of gasoline. All Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasolines have been certified as meeting the TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline Standard and protect critical engine parts to improve performance as you drive.