Winterize My Ride: Protecting Your Car From the Elements

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Rapper Xzibit likes to “pimp rides,” or trick cars out with crazy gadgets. He might tell you that a fly ride needs rims, a Playstation 4, and a subwoofer the size of the trunk, but Xzibit's modifications aren't going to keep your car on the road in the winter.

The winter is a huge problem for drivers who experience severe cold weather. Just like you'd hate to be caught in a snowstorm without your coat, your car needs a little extra love in the winter, and for most people, it is overlooked. Yet, anywhere that experiences cold or snow (and this advice is universal, whether from a Volkswagen dealer in Nome, Alaska or Nissan dealers in Virginia) makes it absolutely crucial that you winterize your vehicle.

SEE ALSO: Is Your Car Safe? 6 Car Safety Myths Debunked
Protecting Your Car From the Elements
Image Credit: russelljsmith

How It's Done
Winterizing a car isn't so different from winterizing a home in many ways. You're worried about the same things: cold air, ice, and snow. But while homes have heating systems that can combat the winter chill, you can't leave your car running overnight. So here's what you do:
  1. Regarding Oil: Oil behaves differently in different temperatures. Think of it like syrup – in the cold, it will thicken a bit, which can be problematic. Don't just guess, or you'll face issues with warranty, or possibly damage the vehicle, but it's usually smart to switch to thinner oil when temperatures go below freezing. Always talk to a mechanic or refer to your vehicle's manual first.
  2. Regarding Battery: Sometimes cars start a little funny in the winter. It can be scary, but often, it's just because the cold makes your battery a little shy. Since the battery's effectiveness is reduced in winter, you have to make sure nothing else gets in the way. Make sure the terminals are tightly connected, the cables have no kinks or cracks, your battery fluid is sufficient, and  your battery isn't old. Have your car tested or test it yourself, but make sure that your voltage reading is above 12.4, at least.
  3. Regarding Emergencies: Sometimes, no amount of preparation is enough, and the winter will beat your vehicle, leaving you – in worst case – stranded. Remember earlier when we talked about Nissan dealers in VA? Even states that aren't in the cold and snowy Northeast – like in Vermont, where most people own snowmobiles – are prone to that kind of problem, so if it EVER snows where you live, get an emergency kit. This should include:
  • Road Flares, to help other drivers see you and to help Emergency services locate your vehicle.
  • Blankets and Snow Boots. If you're caught without your car in a storm, make sure you can stay as warm and dry as possible.
  • Engine Oil. Often, oil is the main problem vehicles face.
  • A spare snow tire, rather than your usual spare.
  • Glycerine, for de-icing, in case your vehicle locks freeze up while you aren't in the vehicle.
Jesse
About the Author:

Jesse is an automotive specialist who enjoys the outdoors

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