Driving in winter conditions tests your car to the limit. If something isn't working properly under the best conditions it certainly isn't going to work when it's cold and stormy. Here are some tips to keep your car running well in the winter.
The first thing to check before the weather gets cold is the anti freeze level--not only how much fluid is in the radiator, but also the ratio of antifreeze/water content. Have a tune up done. Have your spark plugs cleaned and re-gapped or replaced.
Change to a lighter oil which will help protect your engine from excessive wear when starting a cold car. Heavier oil takes longer to circulate into the motor and internal damage can occur.
Change to winter wiper blades which are a must for icy driving.
Whenever starting your car, make sure that there is nothing obstructing the tailpipe. Never warm up your car in a closed
garage. If your car gets stuck out on the road, run the heater every 10 minutes but never fall asleep with the car running.
Have the battery serviced and load-tested. Replace the battery if it's over 4 years old.
Check the lights, heater and defroster.
Inspect the belts and hoses to be sure they are free from frays, cracks, leaks or rotted rubber. Make sure that radiator hose clamps are tight to prevent leaks at the connections.
Because of winter's lower temperatures, the air pressure in tires will drop. Check tires after driving a short distance to warm them up for an accurate reading. Adding air to cold tires can result in overinflated tires when they warm up.
Place sandbags in the trunk over the rear axle for better traction in rear wheel vehicles.
An winter emergency kit for the trunk should include: blanket, hats, boots, gloves, change of clothing, ice scraper, small snow shovel, flashlight, batteries, kitty litter for traction, jumper cables, a tool kit, tire chains, a properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack.
Additional items for the trunk include: A help sign to put in your window, brightly-colored cloth, a compass, first aid kit, wooden matches in a waterproof container, scissors, string, and canned food along with a can opener.
Always carry a cell phone or small change or a calling card for a payphone.