What Does It Mean To Winterize Your Car

See A Short YouTube Video About Winterization From London’s Automotive, Inc. At this Link

When asked the question “How do I prepare my car for winter” People often think of changing their coolant (antifreeze). This may be part of winterization, but many of today’s vehicles use “long life coolant” that only requires replacement every 5 years or so. While it is something that needs to be checked concerning mixture, which equals degree of temperature protection, as well as condition, it is only part of winter preparation. So ”what does it mean to winterize your car”?

Cold winter temperatures can be hard on a vehicle and it’s systems as well as potentially its occupants, so I have put together a list of what we feel “winterization” should include for your vehicle. Just like changing your batteries in your smoke detector when we set the clocks forward or back, this is also a good time to perform regular vehicle maintenance. The main thing we want to accomplish is preventing a failure or breakdown that will leave you out in the cold. So let’s get down to business.

  • Replace of refill all fluids

  • Check or replace coolant. A 50/50 mix is recommended and provides freeze protection to -35 below 0.

  • Engine oil. Your owner’s manual will usually include a list of different weights of oil depending on temperature. If you live in a cold winter area you may want to run a lighter weight oil.

  •  Washer fluid. Make sure that your reservoir is full to help keep the windshield clear and maintain good visibility at all times. You also may want to add an antifreeze solution to this fluid as regular washer fluid will freeze when it hits the windshield. Make sure it is antifreeze for washer fluid use. Do not use engine coolant.

  • Transmission fluid. Here we mainly want to make sure it is in good condition and the system is full. Also check the levels in the differentials and transfer case.

  • Power steering fluid. The same goes here, clean and full.

  • Replace windshield wipers. This the best time of year to replace your wiper blades. If you live in a warm climate they will likely have baked on the windshield all summer. They will usually need to be replaced yearly.

  • Battery and charging system. Test the battery and verify the alternators output. Winter will often create a heavy draw on the electrical system with shorter daylight hours (more headlight use) and more need for heat, wipers etc. Did you know that a drop in temperature to 0 degrees will reduce the battery’s cranking by half? Let’s make sure it is strong and doesn’t fail before winter is over. This is also the time to check the belts and verify that they are in good condition.

  • Tires.

    • Make sure your tires are at the proper pressure and that you have adequate tread depth. The deeper the tread the better when there is a lot of rain or standing water. Decreased tread depth can quickly lead to hydroplaning.

    • Oregon allows the use of studded tires from Nov. 1st thru April 15th. While not usually needed in the valley, if you are traveling over the passes they are good idea. If the passes are snow covered the state will require traction devices. These include chains, studded tires and approved winter tires. Please remember that studs are very hard on the pavement and cause a lot of expensive damage to the roadways, therefore are best left off unless needed.

  • Brakes. Fall and spring are a good time to inspect your brakes.

  • Check four wheel / All-wheel drive operation. Always a great idea to make sure everything is working before it may be needed.

  • Fuel. Make it a habit to always operate off the top half of you gas tank, especially when traveling. If, heaven forbid, you should end up stuck or stranded, you can still run the engine and use the heater for warmth.

  • Air conditioning. Really? Yes really! For most vehicles, turning on the defroster turns on the AC system and operates off the hot side of the system. This gets you heat much quicker and will clear the windshield much faster than without the AC. Don’t worry, if the AC does not work, you will still get heat, it will just be slower.

  • Emergency Kit. Not just for winter! An emergency kit is a good idea all year round, however there are a few things you will want to add for winter.

    • First aid kit

    • Cell phone charger

    • Fire extinguisher

    • Jumper cables

    • Tow strap or rope

    • Flashlight & extra batteries

    • Drinking water

    • Nonperishable snacks / Energy bars

    • Foam tire sealant (please use only as a last resort)

    • Tire pressure gauge

    • Reflective triangles and/or road flares

    • Gloves, rags, duct tape, multipurpose tool

    • Additional for winter travel include;

    • Warm blanket

    • Rain poncho

    • Tire chains

    • Salt or cat litter – use for traction

    • Windshield ice scraper

    • Small or folding shovel

    • Change of clothes


One other thing that could make winter weather easier is a can of deicer kept at home in the case of frozen door locks.

While this may not cover everything you might encounter in winter driving, following guidelines such as these can greatly reduce the risk of unwanted break downs. Furthermore if you are well prepared it will be easier should you have any issues while on the road in adverse conditions.

Enjoy the winter wonderland and if you need help with your winterization or have concerns, please feel free to call or stop by London’s Automotive, Inc. and we would be glad to help. 541-753-4444

Written by London's Automotive