Avoiding Winter Woes: 9 Vehicle Maintenance Tips

    December 9, 2014

Auto maintenance is a year-round concern, but extra caution is required in those parts of the country where winter brings freezing temperatures, heavy snows and hazardous driving conditions. 

Here are 9 vehicle maintenance issues that are more common in cold weather – and some helpful tips. 

1. Tire Traction

One of the worst feelings you can have behind the wheel is when the tires start sliding on an icy road, affecting your ability to control the car. A switch to snow tires is one way to avoid that slippery sensation. But if you’re going to chance it on your current tires, at least make sure they have sufficient tread, are free of significant wear or damage, and are inflated to the correct pressure. Don’t forget to check the spare as well. 

2. Windshield Wipers

Your wipers are the key to maintaining adequate visibility while driving in heavy rain or snow. It’s an easy and cheap repair, so why not do replace them every year before wear becomes an issue? And whether the blades are new or old, avoid sliding them across an icy windshield, as this will damage the rubber. Of course, it’s equally important to have clear visibility from the rear window – the LOCTITE Rear Window Defogger is a complete kit that provides a quick and easy fix for damaged defogger tabs.

3. Battery

A battery can die any time, but since batteries have to work harder in colder weather, it’s no coincidence that more of them quit in the winter months. To be safe, check how long you’ve had your battery and replace it if necessary. Also, always travel with a portable charger or jumper cables (wrapped in LOCTITE Insulating & Sealing Wrap). Use LOCTITE Dielectric Grease as a battery terminal protector. And it doesn’t hurt to have an auto club like AAA on speed-dial. 

4. Radiator

Check your antifreeze to keep the radiator from freezing, which can result in a very costly repair bill. Also check the hoses that are connected to the radiator to make sure the rubber is in good condition and leak-free. LOCTITE 565™ Thread Sealant is a high performance sealant ideal for application to threaded coolant lines and fitting.

5. Lights

You would notice right away if a headlight burns out, but a malfunctioning fog light, turn signal or back-up light can go unnoticed for weeks. Check all of the bulbs so you can be certain of the visibility of your vehicle while driving in harsh winter conditions. 

6. Gas Line

A frozen fuel line can prevent your car from starting. It’s an issue that happens more with cars that are parked outside in the elements overnight or for long periods of time. If you don’t have access to a garage, try to keep your gas tank at least half full, and/or add gas line antifreeze to the tank. 

7. Brakes

Stopping on ice is tough enough; stopping on ice with worn brakes can be a hazardous undertaking. A routine brake check is always a good idea before winter hits. 

8. Truck Maintenance: Fluid Check

As winter approaches, checking and changing your fluids is a must. Make sure you change your oil, power steering, transmission, transfer case, and differential fluids. Reference your vehicle’s maintenance guide to see if switching to synthetics could be helpful to you. Synthetics tend to flow better at colder temperatures. 

9. Motorcycle Maintenance: Parts Coating

Motorcycle maintenance requires some additional precautions that auto maintenance does not, especially since many of the engine parts that receive some protection from the hood of a car are exposed to the elements on a bike. Coating these parts with oil (also known as “fogging the engine”) can help keep them running, or protect them if you plan to store your motorcycle for the winter. To complete this task correctly, remove the air filter first, and spray the parts outdoors, as the process can cause a lot of smoke.

About the Author, Mike Oliveira

Mike Oliveira is an Application Engineer for Henkel. His present and previous employment has given him experience in assembly equipment, robotics, and electrical related items. Mike has used these job related skills to perform general automotive and household repairs. He earned an Associates Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology and a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Technology.

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