Great Lakes winters can be brutal. Getting your car ready for winter is critical. NOAA is predicting colder-than-average and wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in the Great Lakes and parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Temperatures on a typical day dip below 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the strong winds from the lakes lead to massive snowfall in the surrounding areas. Winter weather usually lasts until the beginning of April with chances of snow even during the first month of spring.
The Potential For Brutal Winter Ahead
For Great Lakes residents, getting around in this environment is difficult, and takes a toll on their vehicles. Salted driveways and streets, snow, rain, wind, and slush can wreak havoc on a car’s motor, tires, windows, and more. Before the winter is in full swing, it’s crucial to get your car checked so you can avoid expensive repairs.
Whether you want to work on your car yourself or take it to a professional mechanic, here are five ways you can prepare your car for the harsh Great Lakes winter ahead.
#1 Check your tires
When was the last time you replaced your tires? Changing your tires for the winter is critical because as it gets colder outside, the air pressure in your tires will decrease. Low air pressure is troublesome because it can cause damaging wear and tear, give you low gas mileage, have a negative effect on your tread, and decrease tire traction. Get your car ready for winter by making sure you fill your tires up to coincide with the PSI recommendations for your vehicle.
#2 Look at your antifreeze level
Antifreeze keeps your engine from becoming too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Lift up your hood and make sure that you have enough water and antifreeze to prevent your fluids from freezing, or buy a premixed bottle to use for your car.
#3 Replace windshield wipers
You’re going to need fully functioning wipers when the freezing rain, snow, and slush hit the Great Lakes area. Along with buying new blades (this should be done every six to 12 months), get your car ready for winter with windshield washer fluid that has a lower freezing temperature and has a deicer. If there is going to be a big snowstorm coming to town, lift your wipers so they don’t freeze and stick to your windshield.
#4 Check your oil level
Your oil should always be at the correct level, but this is especially important in the winter. Make sure it’s not over or under the proper level because the cold weather tends to make all oil thicker until the engine gets to operating temperature. Consult your owner’s manual for how to check the oil yourself.
#5 Check Your Oil Type
If you are going to have an oil change in the winter consult with your professional mechanic on the right oil type for your vehicle in the wintertime. A 5W weight oil is typically what’s suggested for winter use. The general rule of thumb is to use 5w30 oil in the winter and 10w30 oil in the summer. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the best type in the winter.
#6 Check Your Battery
Car batteries don’t last forever and they have an uncanny way of dying on a cold winter morning just as you have to get to a critical appointment. The best practice is to conduct a little test before the winter takes over with a hard freeze. Check the battery by attaching a simple battery charger with a digital or analog display of the charge percentage
Many battery chargers these days can check a battery that works on conventional lead-acid batteries and gel and absorbed glass mat (AGM) styles. Once you have an idea of how charged your battery is, leave it on and ensure that it is fully charged.. If you test it again in a day or two and the charge drops below 50%, it’s lime to think about a new battery.
If you don’t want to invest in a tester or are intimated by the whole process, many auto parts stores will test your battery for free.
Now that you’ve checked your car out and fixed any problems, you’re ready for a Great Lakes winter.
NOAA’s 2019-2021 Winter Outlook
Auto Manufactures Owner websites
All the automakers have websites for their owners to utilize. Many also have mobile apps to assist owners with finding local dealers and scheduling services. Here are the major American OEMs owner sites:
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – Chrysler, Jeep, Ram Trucks, and Dodge – Mopar.com
Ford Motor – Ford Owners
General Motors – GM Owners Center