Let’s face it: the cold weather can be tough on your car. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to help it manage the winter. The local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here with some considerations.
1) Inspect Your Tires
Cold weather can cause low tire pressure as the air compresses, affecting their grip on the road. So check your tire pressure regularly and inflate them to the proper level. You can read our 5-step guide to inflating your tires here.
Your tire tread is also vital to ensuring your safety on the road—especially when inclement weather strikes. Therefore, it is vital to check each tire’s tread to ensure you have even wear and at least 2/32″ of thickness. (Click here to read our guide on checking your tire tread depth.) If you live in a place with frequent snow, you can also consider using winter tires. As the name suggests, winter tires are designed to perform better in cold and snowy conditions.
2) Keep Your Car Clean
Snow, ice, and road salt can all take a toll on your car’s exterior and undercarriage. As you walk over the salt-covered pavements, you can also track these abrasive materials into your car’s interior. Car wash and detailing services can help protect your car from the elements.
3) Check Your Car’s Fluids
Your engine relies on a variety of fluids—including engine oil, radiator fluid (coolant), brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Cold weather can cause your car’s fluids to thicken, which can put your engine at risk. This thickening worsens when your car’s fluids are old or contaminated. To keep your engine safe, have your local mechanic check your fluid levels and composition.
4) Keep your Battery in Good Shape
Cold weather can cause your battery to lose charge more quickly as it slows down the electrochemical reactions used to power your car. To make matters worse, the cold weather can also slow down your engine oil, requiring your battery to work even harder. Collectively, these issues often leave drivers stranded in the cold. If you have a newer battery, it’s important to keep it in good condition:
- The summer heat does more car battery damage than the winter frost. Try to park in the shade when possible.
- During the winter, parking in the garage can minimize the impacts of cold weather.
- Your alternator recharges your battery as you drive. As such, avoid leaving your car sitting for extended periods.
- Have a mechanic clean off any rust or corrosion and replace the terminal ends when necessary.
- Keep your engine oil fresh. As mentioned above, slow-moving engine oil is part of your battery’s struggle. Keeping up with regular oil changes will help your engine stay healthy while minimizing winter battery stress.
If your battery is older, have your mechanic test it to ensure it will survive the winter. It is often better to replace a nearly-dead battery than to risk getting stranded or needing a tow. For additional information, you can read our 8-step guide to jump-starting your car battery, our guide on when to replace your car battery, and our guide to the safety of battery jumps.
5) Stay Ready for Anything
When traveling in the wintery weather, you must stay ready for anything. It’s a good idea to keep a few essential items in your vehicle—including jumper cables (or a jump-starting battery pack), nonperishable snacks, a blanket, water, a flashlight, and extra warm clothing. These extras can help keep you safe and comfortable if any winter driving hazards leave you stranded.
Winter Car Care at Chapel Hill Tire
By following these tips from our local mechanics, you can help ensure that your car is ready to handle the challenges of cold weather.
Our professional mechanics proudly serve the greater Triangle area with 10 locations across Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. We also commonly serve surrounding communities, including Knightdale, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, Morrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment, browse our promotions, or give us a call to get started today!