Six Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter

Following Superstorm Sandy and the Nor’easter that came in right after, many on the Eastern seaboard are scrambling to find was to stay warm and winterize their potentially damaged homes. Many more across the country will be buckling down for what could be a very nasty winter. If your home is in the path of a gnarly blizzard, and say, the power goes out, you’ll need to rely on your car or truck to start to get to a warm place. Otherwise, you could be in serious trouble.

To get a better idea of how to best prepare your car for the winter, I spoke to fellow Bold Ride contributor, and owner of the Manhattan Classic Car Club, Michael Prichinello. His garage in NYC requires contant attention to the collection of vintage rides to keep their perennially temperamental powertrains humming along. Here are some lessons that he employs through the winter that could possibly save your ass! So listen up:

1. It’s the Rubber, Stupid: Tires are obviously very important. It is the part of the car that drives water and slush away from the center of the contact patch helps the rest of the rubber find concrete to grip under standing water and slush. Either have a set of freshly installed all-season tires or, if you use summer tires in the summer, you better have the winter’s to change into.

2. Don’t Gum it Up with Bad Oil: 5-w30 is more lightweight and more nimble for the cold weather. 10w-40 and other heavier-gauge oils turn to a consistency close to jelly in the cold weather and doesn’t circulate through the engine very well. If you use a thinner oil, it’ll get it moving through the engine better. Check your owners manual, as it has a chart specifying the correct oil for the correct temperature.

3. Chill Out Responsibly: Make sure your antifreeze mixture is correct. It should be 50/50 water to antifreeze to cut back on corrosion and keep it liquid, not frozen. Even if you’re topped off, you still need to make sure the mixture is correct. A flush of the entire coolant system before the winter it wise  replacing it with a fresh 50/50 mixture.

4. Wipe-on, Wipe-off: Fresh wiper blades are much better at moving icy buildup. Older ones are truly dangerous in how poorly they move snow and ice away. The best way to preserve wipers is to ‘flip up’ the wiper arm to keep it off the windshield in a storm, having to scrape around it to break it free will certainly damage the blade. Oh, and make sure you have anti-freeze washer fluid topped off too.

5. Top it Off: If you have an empty or near-empty gas tank, the temperature swings of the cold winter will cause condensation in your tank, causing water to get into your fuel system. Keep the fuel tank topped off, and if the car is not used every day, don’t let an engine sit idle for too long. Get out there once in a while and give it a start.

6. Break in Case of Emergency: Finally, always have an emergency kit in the car. Getting stranded is terrible, but getting stranded in the winter is downright dangerous. Be prepared. Have jumper cables, flashlights, blankets, hand warmers, first aid kit, some cash in case you need a taxi (or to tip the tow-truck operator). Additionally, make sure your spare tire is in place and properly inflated, and that you have a gas can that you can use to fill up in case you run out! It’s simple, really, just think of worst-case-scenarios (like, something out of the Shining) and think what you may need to make it through that situation. You’ll start to put together a formidable winter emergency kit that can take on whatever the colder climes can throw at you.

Image credits: BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi

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