Are Your Vehicles Prepared for the Cache Valley Winter
Winter’s just around the corner. Where just a few weeks ago, we were all praying for the heat to end, today it’s cold. The leaves are starting to fall, which has a lot of us thinking about raking the yard. Don’t forget about your vehicles, though. Whether it’s your summer RVs going into storage, or your regular car needing to be prepped for the cold, it’s time to winterize your vehicles.
Are You Going To Use It?
If your vehicle is one you intend to keep using over the winter, then there are a few things you need to do to prepare it for the winter weather. According to SE Performance, a mechanic in Logan, Utah, the main focus of winterizing a vehicle you intend to use should be on handling slippery roads, cold, and visibility issues
1. Slippery Roads
The roads are going to get icy. The city will apply salt to the roads, but this will turn the ice to slush. While the snow plows will try to push this off the road, there will be times when the roads will be slippery, despite their best efforts. You need to make sure your car is ready to handle this. It would be wise to switch out your normal tires for studded winter tires. These tires will have more traction and be less likely to slip on patches of ice. You also need to make sure your tires have good pressure. A combination of cold air and less driving will mean your tires lose air faster. To counteract them, check your tire pressure every two weeks and refill them as needed.
The tires aren’t all, though. Your brakes also need to be up to par. The chemicals used on the road to clear ice will speed up the corrosion of metals. When you drive on slushy roads, those chemicals splash onto the underside of your car. This can cause damage to your brakes. Before the winter comes, check your brakes to make sure they’re in good condition. You don’t want to find out there’s a problem while you’re on the road.
2. Managing the Cold
The cold is going to have two major impacts on your vehicle: it’s fluids, and its power. While keeping your car in the garage can mitigate some of the problem, you should still take some steps to protect your car.
The first is to top off or change all of your fluids. You want all your car’s fluids full so there’s no room for water to condense inside your engine. This will cause corrosion and wear out your engine. In some older cars, you may need to change to a different kind of oil. Older kinds of motor oil will become thicker in the cold, even if it doesn’t freeze. Check your owner’s manual to find out what kind of oil your car uses and see if that oil has problems in the winter. You can then switch to a thinner oil that won’t have this problem. If you don’t know what oils work best, you can check with a mechanic to find out.
The second issue, that of power, concerns your battery. When it gets cold, the charge from your battery can drain faster. If you can store your car in a garage, that’s usually not a problem, as you’ll be driving it, which keeps the battery charge stable. If you don’t have a garage, this can be a problem for cars with older batteries. If you own an older car, have the battery checked up on to see if it’s still good. While car batteries last a long time, the older they get, the more susceptible to losing charge in the cold they become. It may be time to replace that battery.
3. Visibility Issues
Not only is it darker in winter, but the weather throws up more fog, smog, and snow, making it harder to see even when the sun is up. You want to minimize visibility issues to avoid problems on the road.
Start with a windshield and wiper inspection. Look for cracks in your windshield that need fixing, as water can get into those cracks and freeze, causing further damage. You should also make sure that you wiper blades are in good condition so they can adequately clear off snow and slush as you drive. As a final help, if you can’t store your car in a garage, you can get windshield covers that prevent water from condensing and freezing on the windshield itself.
After that, get your headlights and tail lights inspected. If your car lights stop working, not only does it make it harder for you to see on the road, it’s much harder for others to see you. Before the snow comes, make sure all your lights are working.
Storage for Summer Vehicles
If the vehicle you’re winterizing is one you won’t be using over the winter – such as a motorcycle, RV, or ATV – then you need to take some different steps to prep it for winter. Vernon Storage in Summit County, Utah, has a few recommendations they give out to their clients.
Like your car, fluids are a concern for vehicles in storage. You need to top them off so there’s no room for moisture to condense inside the engine. However, there is an extra step here to take because you won’t be driving it for a few months. Gasoline has a very short shelf-life and will go bad if it sits for too long. To avoid this, you need to add stabilizer fluid to your gas tank. This prevents you from having a gunky gas-tank come spring.
2. Remove The Battery
For many vehicles you’ll be storing over winter, like ATVs and Motorcycles, you can avoid the problem of letting the battery die by removing it and attaching it to a trickle charger. This means you won’t have to worry about it. If you don’t want to take your vehicle apart, then you’ll instead have to check on it once a month to recharge it to keep the battery from dying on you.
3. Rotate or Raise The Tires
If your vehicle sits in one place for a long time, the weight squashes the tires. To avoid these flats, you have two options. The easiest is to use a storage jack that raises the vehicle off the ground. That way, the tires don’t have any weight on them. The alternative is more work, but works just as well: rotate your tires once a week.
4. Wax It Up
Just as important as prepping the inside against corrosion, you want to make sure the outside is ready for the winter moisture. After cleaning off your vehicle to get rid of any vacation dirt, give it a coat of wax to keep the moisture out. For complete protection, spray down the exhaust pipes with WD-40 and then stuff them with rags to keep out pests.
5. Keep It Out of the Elements
While you can try to throw a tarp over your summer vehicles to keep the moisture off, this isn’t the most effective solution. It’s usually better to store your vehicles in your garage. If your garage doesn’t have enough room, or you don’t have a garage in the first place, consider a storage unit for seasonal storage. This is the best way to protect your vehicle from the effects of cold and condensation. If that isn’t an option either, you can look into getting a complete storage cover for best results.
Prepare For Winter
Machines don’t like it when things get too cold. Whether you intend to drive the vehicle through the winter months, or put it in storage until spring, you need to winterize your vehicle. Some of the steps are the same either way, and some vehicles may need extra steps, so make sure you familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s needs. Make sure you get it done before the snow comes, too. It can be much more of a hassle when you have to deal with the snow on top of winterizing your vehicle. With winter right around the corner, now’s the best time to start getting them ready for the cold.