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Consumer Focus: Winter Car Maintenance
Image of car and a person covered in snow

Winter Car Maintenance

Have you been too busy to get your car ready for the winter? Or perhaps you didn't know that special preparations were required? Either way, this article is for you. Here are some easy steps to "winterizing" your vehicle and saving money by performing some of these tasks yourself.

For those of you in the Sunbelt where snow and ice are not an issue, here are some tips on how to keep your car in good shape in a warmer climate.


Image of a person in the hood of a car throwing parts outPreparing Your Car for Winter

Before the cold weather strikes, here are some helpful tips to get your car in gear and ready to go.

  • Get engine problems such as stalling corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather tends to make existing problems like stalling worse.
  • Make sure your heater and defroster are in good working order.
  • Put a bottle of de-icer in your gas tank once a month to keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping your tank full also helps keep this moisture from forming.
  • If your climate is harsh, consider purchasing rubber-clad winter windshield wiper blades to fight ice build up.
  • Stock up on windshield washer fluid. When snow and ice melt, the dirty water splashes onto your windshield. So, you may need more washer fluid than usual to keep your windshield clean.
  • If you get stuck in the snow, worn tires will be of little use. Inspect your tires for problems like bulges and uneven wear. If your tires are wearing unevenly, they may need to be rotated or balanced.
  • Check your tire pressure once a month. Consult your owners manual to see what tire pressure is recommended. This is usually expressed in pounds per square inch (psi). Then, purchase an inexpensive gauge to see if your tires are under or overinflated.


Image of a man driving in the snow

Pack an Emergency Kit

Be prepared for unexpected snow and ice with an emergency kit. You should also make sure you have a way to keep warm in your car, in case your car breaks down, or the weather is too bad to drive in.

Your kit should include:

  • An ice scraper
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Blankets
  • Flares
  • A snow shovel
  • Sand or kitty litter (for traction in case you get stuck)
  • Tire chains
  • A flashlight
  • A spare tire
  • A jack
  • Spare bulbs and fuses, especially for your emergency flashers
  • A cellular phone
  • Water and high energy snacks, such as granola bars


Image of a female mechanic

Tasks You Can Perform Yourself

We promised you at the beginning that you could save money by performing some of these tasks yourself. To recap, here are the tasks you can perform:

  • Put de-icer in your gas tank
  • Purchase and install winter windshield wipers
  • Inspect your tires
  • Check your tire pressure
  • Keep your windshield washer reservoir full

The following tasks, however, are probably best left to a professional.

  • Fixing engine problems, such as stalling
  • Making sure your heater and defroster are in good working order
  • Rotating and balancing your tires


Other Resources

This is just a brief overview. For more information, check out these resources:


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