Prepare Your Vehicle Early for Winter

Prepare Your Vehicle Early for Winter

During my career as a police officer, I’ve seen many winters come and go. Year after year, during those cold months, I’ve also seen people have the same problems over and over again. I believe strongly that many vehicle accidents are caused by vehicle defects that could have been remedied if the owners had known and practiced certain vehicle winterization preparation measures. This article is being written to hopefully ensure the safety of both children and adults.

With night coming early and temperatures dropping, winter is not a good time to have vehicle trouble. Remember, the cold weather takes its toll on a vehicle. Motorcars LTD has a fantastic 12 point Winterization Checklist. Some of the following information is taken from it.

  • 1. Tune up the engine.

  • 2. Check all fluid levels and fill as needed.

  • 3. Check the oil.

  • 4. Check the anti-freeze.

  • 5. Fill the wiper fluid reservoir with de-icing solution.

  • 6. Check the battery.

  • 7. Check the tread and air pressure of tires (keep in mind the fact that drops in temperature cause decreases in tire pressure. If installing snow tires, do not mix brands. Use the same size and brand).

  • 8. Inspect the breaks.

  • 9. Install good windshield wiper blades.

  • 10. Check headlights and signal lights (immediately replace inoperative lights).

  • 11. Check belts and hoses.

  • 12. Ensure heater and defroster are in good working condition.



  • You may also want to carry a Cold Weather Kit in your vehicle that contains: jumper cables, a shovel, snow chains, an ice scraper, towing cables, emergency flares, a blanket, a first aid kit, candles, non-perishable food items, warm gloves, boots, a flashlight, and a cell phone.

    Cooling System Flush:
    As winter approaches, one of the most important things you can do for your vehicle is change the anti-freeze. A 50:50 mixture of anti-freeze is recommended by most manufacturers, which will provide protection from freezing down to -35 degrees Fahrenheit. If your coolant has not been changed in the last two years…it’s time. If possible, have your engine’s cooling system flushed. That will effectively remove rust, corrosion and scale build-up while replacing 90-95% of the contaminated coolant with fresh coolant.

    Brake Fluid Flush:
    As most break fluids are Glycol based, they absorb water over time, through break system seals, hoses, and caps. If the moisture level reaches a significant concentration (a mere 5%), a hot running break system can boil the break fluid, forming compressed vapor in the lines, which, in severe cases, can cause spongy breaks or break failure. Higher concentrations can actually freeze the break lines. Do not ignore proper break fluid maintenance.

    Winter Wiper Blades:
    Winter driving in sleet, snow, and ice is the toughest punishment that your blades will ever see. Having old, worn blades at the onset of winter could lead to dangerous driving conditions when you encounter bad weather. Along with the new wipers, a product such as Rain-X should be applied to your windshield.

    Fuel System Drier:
    Added to your vehicle’s gasoline, this helps provide easier cold weather starts and it helps to prevent frozen fuel lines and fuel system components by absorbing moisture created from condensation in fuel tanks. It also helps clean the fuel system.

    Shine and Protect:
    Have your vehicle washed and waxed regularly. This helps to clean, condition, and protect all painted exterior surfaces. Don’t forget to have the under carriage washed and pressure sprayed to remove salts, and, and chemicals, such as de-icing chemicals, which are environmentally friendly, but can destroy the under surface of a vehicle, along with a regular wax or paint job. Magnesium sulfate works great to keep vehicles from sliding into guard rails and ditches, but it is deplorable on an automobile’s finish, allowing rust and corrosion to reduce the value of your vehicle by thousands of dollars.

    A smart player is one who prepares for the game. It won’t be long before those cold wintry days are upon us. I hope this information will be useful to you and will assist you in having a happy and safe winter season.

    View this document in PDF format.

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    This information if furnished as a part of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office-School Resource Officer-Parent and Student Education Program (PASEP). Questions concerning this article or other topics may be referred to any SRO or by calling 457-2414 and leaving a message for the SRO Supervisor.

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