How to Keep Your Car Running Smoothly When the Weather Outside Is Frightful

Car on the street covered by icy rain
Chalabala/Getty Images

Winter is my least favorite season.

I hate feeling cold. I detest bulky jackets. And I think snow is pretty for only about 30 seconds.

I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. And if cars had feelings, they’d probably be miserable in blustery winter weather, too.

Icy roads can make tires slip. Freezing temperatures can cause fluids to thicken, making it harder for your car to function properly.

Having your car break down on the side of the road is terrible, but it’s 10 times worse when the wind chill is below zero and there’s a foot of snow piled up.

Luckily, the Car Care Council shared the following tips on how to prepare your car for the winter, so you can keep it running efficiently and avoid road emergencies and pricy trips to the repair shop.

And please, if your city, county or other jurisdiction has issued a travel advisory to stay off the roads, please heed the warning and don’t venture out until conditions are deemed safe to drive again.

6 Easy Ways to Winterize Your Car

  1. Fill ’er up!: Don’t let your gas tank drop below half full. A low tank increases the chance of moisture forming in gas lines and potentially freezing.
  2. Keep up the pressure: Cold temperatures can cause tire pressure to drop, so make sure you check the tire pressure, even in the spare. You might want to consider using snow tires if snow and ice are an issue where you live.
  3. Look out for leaks: Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide is odorless, and breathing in too much can be lethal. It’s especially important to be aware of leaks in the winter as you’re driving with the windows up all the time.
  4. Don’t skip your warmup: When the temperatures fall below freezing, give your car some time to warm up. This will allow the oil in the engine and transmission to circulate and get warm.
  5. Use low-viscosity oil: Switch from 10-W30 oil to 5-W30 oil because thickened oil can make it hard to start your car in cold weather. The low-viscosity oil will flow better between moving parts when the temperature is freezing.
  6. Keep a clear windshield: Consider using cold-weather washer fluid and a special winter windshield blade to keep your visibility clear during snow showers.

The Car Care Council also recommends you have a trusted professional check your vehicle if you have existing car issues, as the cold might magnify those problems.

Though preventative care is always key to staying out the auto repair shop, you can’t predict the unexpected. The council advises drivers to keep an emergency kit in their cars with an ice scraper, a snow brush, jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

Stay safe and stay warm!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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