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Top 8 Tips for Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter

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The temperature is steadily dropping, and more mornings than not we wake up to a thin layer of frost covering the ground and our vehicles. This all points to one unfortunate fact: Old Man Winter is coming again.

With winter slowly creeping closer and closer it is time to prepare our vehicles for those long cold months ahead. Yes, just like pulling out the warm clothes and the thick quilts, we must also prepare our vehicles to the cold as well.

1. Winter Tires: We have written at length about the importance of winter tires, but the truth is they really are one of the best tools in your arsenal to prepare for winter. If you already have winter tires, now is the time to check them over and make sure they are still in good working order. Use the "toonie test" to test the tread depth. You also want to make sure there are no holes and the tires are holding air properly. Throughout winter you should also check your tire pressure regularly.Did you know: It is recommended in Canada for winter tires be in place from at least Halloween until Easter each year, but often times earlier in the fall.

2. Battery: The extreme cold we experience here in Alberta pulls voltage from a battery, making it harder for your vehicle to start. In fact, battery output drops by about half at -18 C. Getting your battery tested is quick, harmless, and many shops include it with seasonal maintenance specials at minimal or no-charge. If it isn't in proper working order, installing a new battery will give you peace of mind.Would you rather find out your battery needs replacing on a Tuesday afternoon in October or after your car won't start at -20 after a holiday party?

3. Block Heater: Now is the best time to make sure your block heater is in proper working order. This includes making sure the cord doesn't need to be replaced. The block heater keeps the engine block at an ideal temperature for the oil to remain thin and not thick and gooey, which happens at temperatures exceeding -20 C, so it can easily move through the engine. This is a life saver when it comes to starting your vehicle in the morning.General rule of thumb: plug in your engine block heater when the weather reaches -15° C or lower.

4. Fluids: Consider moving to winter-ready fluids like oil, coolant and even washer fluid. Engine oil takes a beating during winter operation thanks to fuel contamination from cold starts and water contamination from engine block condensation. At colder temperature it also gets thick and hard for the engine to cycle through. Keep an eye on your fuel gauge too, since cold weather decreases fuel efficiency. If the tank gets too low in winter, you risk a fuel-line freeze, which will prevent your vehicle from starting until it thaws.Talk to service technician about what fluids your specific vehicle may need to have changed for winter.

5. Tune Up: Before winter arrives in earnest, take your car in for a tune up. This could include an oil change, checking your brakes and brake lines, battery, alignment and other things that don't get a lot of use in the summer months like your window defrost and your all- or four-wheel drive systems.

6. Windshield and Wipers: Take care of those rock chips before they become an even bigger problem. The changing temperature of the glass from freezing to warm as it defrosts can cause a chip to become a crack and consequently an impairment. If you already have cracks in your windshield consider having it replaced before they potentially get worse in the winter.We all know how thick and heavy the snow can get, which is why it is recommended to install winter wipers. These blades are heavier and push snow and ice more easily.

7. Locks, latches, doors: Before the deep freeze eventually hits, take the time to lubricate door locks, latches, and hinges and treat the door and window seals. By spraying the door and window seals with a silicone lubricating compound, they will be less likely to freeze you out on a cold winter morning.

8. Emergency Roadside Kit: You have heard it time and time again, but we can't reiterate enough how important it is to have some sort of winter survival kit in your car in case of emergencies.

Bonus Tip: Clean Out Your Car

While the temperatures are still on the relatively nice side of zero, now is the perfect time to clear out garbage and unwanted items from your car. No one wants to be digging through old take out bags, wrappers and receipts to get to the ice scraper on a particularly cold day. Clean out your trunk so you'll have room for winter travelling essentials. This is also a great time to replace your floor mats with weather resistant mats.

If you prepare your car for the winter months now, you can be confident your vehicle will be ready for the icy and slippery driving conditions and cold temperatures that are just around the corner. Stop in to our Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center today for services and products to help you enjoy a safe winter.

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