It’s been so nice out lately, this morning’s cold snap kinda snuck up on me. I walked outside and proceeded to scrape the sleet off my windshield. No, that wasn’t a typo- I had to scrape my windshield. Of course I had to search high and low for my scraper, because my car’s not ready for winter. Today was my wake up call- time to winterize the car.
Clean the outside of the vehicle
Use what’s left of these fall days to give a good scrubbing to the exterior of your car. Winter’s not-so-charming effects are about to hit your paintjob, so a thorough washing and a protective coat of wax might just save your car’s body for another year.
Clean the inside of the vehicle
After you’ve vacuumed the fries off the floor, swap those carpeted floor mats for a good set of water-resistant vinyl or rubber slush mats. This will save you so much work later! Also, your car’s interior doesn’t want that stale, climate controlled atmosphere! For goodness sake man, get an air freshener!
Test the battery
Cold is the enemy of your car’s electrical system. Add the power demands of the defrosters, wipers, and heating systems into the mix, and your electrical system really has it’s hands full. A very simple battery test is to turn on the headlights before you start the engine. If you start the engine and notice that the lights get brighter, you might want to swing by the service department for a more elaborate test.
Check the lights
Winter is darker. Duh! Your lights will be longer and take more of a beating. Now’s the time to do a quick walk around and make sure they’re all working.
Check and change fluids
Check the coolant system to make sure your anti-freeze level is good. Check the hoses for leaks, cracks, and wear. Use a clean rag or paper towels to search for leaks around the reservoirs in the engine compartment (like your brakes and oil)
Check and change the wipers
That snow and ice will tear up your wipers in short order, so you should at least get a head start with a fresh, new set. Also refill the washer fluid and make sure the wipers are working all the way across your windshield
Toss in the basics that you’ll need everyday, like a scraper, snow brush, and maybe a bottle of de-icer for those extra-icky mornings. It might be a good idea to pack some emergency items like jumper cables, a collapsible shovel, and some carpet scraps for a little bit of extra traction when needed.