5 maintenance tasks to complete in cold weather

February 3, 2015 03:39 PM

We may be in the thick of winter, but it's not too late to make changes to the car that will benefit you for the rest of the season. You need to be prepared for cold temperatures, heavy snows and other types of harsh weather, and the best way to do that is to invest in the right auto repair and maintenance. Here are five common tasks that shouldn't be overlooked. 

1. Change the oil 
Regular oil changes are key to keeping your engine running smoothly. The winter season is the right time to get an auto oil change, as vehicles often need the fluid to be of a certain thickness. A switch to seasonal oil will prevent sludge from forming and creating blockages in the engine system. Your owner's manual will have all the information about what product to turn to, but you can reach out for help at an auto repair franchise as well. 

2. Review visibility 
When your windshield is frosted over and you have to scrape layers of precipitation off the window, it's easy to want to take shortcuts. But your visibility is extremely important, and it deserves all of the effort you can give. Check the fluid levels to ensure you have enough washer fluid, and make sure you've got antifreeze on hand. You may even want to consider replacing the wipers themselves if you notice constant streakiness or poor performance. 

3. Check the battery 
As long as your car turns on when you stick your key in the ignition, you might not give the battery a second thought. But if you continue ignoring it, you may find that it fails at an inopportune moment. Luckily this is easily prevented with a tune up

"In frigid weather like this, weak car batteries are the first to go, especially since cold weather damage is cumulative," said Jana Tidwell, manager of AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs, as quoted by the Daily Local. "At 32 degrees, your car's battery loses 35 percent of its strength. If your battery is more than three years old, it's worth having your battery checked. If you've postponed vehicle maintenance, now is the time to take care of it."

4. Monitor tire pressure 
Changes in temperature can wreak havoc on air pressure. Having properly inflated tires is necessary for navigating icy roads, which makes regularly checking the wheels essential. Look over the tread and general condition of the tires before measuring air pressure. The owner's manual will have more information at the ideal level for winter. 

Additionally, anyone living in an area with heavy snow should consider purchasing snow tires. These wheels are created specifically to handle rough weather and can be a major advantage on the roads. Tire chains are also a good alternative, but check your state's particular regulations regarding this equipment. 

5. Have the HVAC system repaired
Personal comfort may take a backseat to performance, but paying attention to your HVAC system is incredibly important in the winter. You'll need the heat to be functioning at a high level to maintain a good temperature inside the car. If you let this car repair fall by the wayside, it could fail in the winter - leaving you to deal with frigid conditions when you should be focusing on the road. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it's also dangerous, as the cold can prevent you from gripping the wheel or clutch properly, and it may reduce your alertness. 

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