Nasty weather, fluctuating temperatures and winter storms can make
winter driving dangerous. Tom Olszewski, automotive technical advisor
for ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties, states: “In the winter
months, all sorts of vehicle ailments crop up. It is important to keep
your engine properly tuned and change your engine oil and fluids
regularly, and checking your tire pressure will help you to avoid costly
repairs and vehicle breakdowns in the cold of winter.”
Vehicle maintenance is extremely important during the winter months. In
addition to performing routine maintenance, using quality products and
making precautionary efforts will help drivers through even the nastiest
Vehicle warm-up: To ensure proper engine oil flow and
lubrication, allow your engine to idle for a few seconds before driving
in cold weather, and drive slowly for the first few miles until the oil
is fully warmed up. This reduces emissions and saves fuel.
Tune-ups: Get a full engine tune-up, according to your owner’s manual.
Check the battery: If a battery is older than four years, it may only work well in warm weather.
Check filters, coolants and hoses: Make sure all filters
— oil, gas and air — are in good condition. Check the coolant and
thermostat to ensure proper engine warm-up, as well as the heater and
defroster operation. Coolant should be changed every two years; however,
extended-life coolants used in many newer vehicles last about five
years. Check for leaking or soft hoses, and replace.
Switch to synthetic oil: To ease engine start-up during
cold weather, switching to a multi-viscosity oil approved by the
manufacturer will help it operate more efficiently, making it easier to
start in extremely cold temperatures.
Fix the brakes: Don’t postpone needed brake work during
winter months. Avoiding brake repair can be extremely dangerous, and it
will cost more to overhaul the entire brake system.
Tire pressure: Check tires for excessive wear and proper
inflation. Do not under inflate or over inflate tires. Low pressure
increases wear and fuel consumption while too much pressure can reduce
traction, especially in icy conditions. As the weather gets cooler, your
air pressure decreases. Check tires and inflate to the proper pressure.
Icy windows and locks: Make sure to have window ice
scrapers and de-icers available. Also make sure your windshield wipers
and front and rear defrosters are working properly. A de-icer for door
locks is also useful, but a heated key can help when locks are frozen.
Personal protection: Don’t forget personal protection
such as a warm coat, a hat and gloves, a blanket and a cell phone, in
case you are stuck in a storm.
Slow down: Do not exceed speed limits and keep safe
driving distances. Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops can
decrease fuel economy. Avoid fuel-wasting jackrabbit starts and pace
your driving to help avoid the need for sudden stops, which is
especially critical during wet and icy road conditions.