While Raleigh winters aren't terribly extreme, we still see our fair share of freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and sleet. These can take a heavy toll on how your car looks and can even affect performance. Keep your car looking and running great all the way to the spring thaw with the top 10 winter car care tips from our Raleigh import auto mechanics!
Check Your Battery
According to Consumer Reports, a car battery only has about 50 percent of the cranking power at 0 degrees that it does at 80. The cold is hard on batteries, which is why dead batteries are a common problem in winter. If you don't want to be stuck in your driveway or stranded at work, you'll want to have a volt test done to make sure it's got plenty of juice to get you through winter. While charging can be a great way to get through winter if your battery is fairly new, if your battery is over five years old, you should replace it.
Restore Your Headlights
There is less daylight in winter, and most of us are driving to and from work in the dark. Snow, sleet, rain, and fog reduce visibility even more, so make sure your headlights are able to light your way home. Check to make sure you don't have any bulbs out, and if so, replace them immediately. Also, if your headlight lenses are dull or yellowed, pick up a headlight restoration kit to bring back clarity and improve your visibility.
Check Your Windshield Wipers
While summer storms give our windshield wipers a workout, mud and slush road spray quickly coat a windshield and make it impossible to see. Make sure your wipers are able to clear rain and snow without streaking, and if they're older than one year, you may want to replace them. Also, prevent your wipers from freezing to your windshield or getting buried in snow by extending them out from your windshield, and never try to clear ice or frost with your wiper blades.
Keep an Eye on Tire Pressure
With every ten degrees the mercury drops, your tires lose a pound of pressure, which may not sound like much, but if they're already low, it can make a huge difference in your vehicle's performance. Driving on low tires kills your gas mileage, reduces your traction, and causes more rapid wear, so once a week, check your pressure and make sure it's at manufacturer's recommendations.
Invest in Winter Tires
You may think that living in North Carolina means you don't need winter tires, but when temperatures regularly fall below 45 degrees (which is common from January through March), winter tires are the better option. Made from hard rubber compounds, they more easily grip cold pavement without losing flexibility while all-season and regular tires are softer and will slide or skid on cold pavement, even when it's dry. Because you're only using them three months out of the year, one set can last multiple seasons, making them an excellent investment in your safety.
Protect Your Paint
Not only are road salt and grime unattractive to your car's exterior, it can also cause corrosion and damage. Before winter, take the time to give your car a thorough wash, then use a coat of polymer wax to create a barrier between your paint and the elements. After really bad weather and snow, take it to the car wash and pay extra attention to any crud that builds up in the wheels, wheel wells and underbody.
Top Off Your Fluids
Antifreeze, or coolant, keeps your engine freezing in cold weather, so you'll want to make sure your levels are where they need to be and there aren't any leaks. If you need to fill up your reservoir, use a 50-50 blend of antifreeze and water - it lowers the freezing point and reduces your usage.
You'll also want to top off your windshield cleaning fluid in case road spray reduces visibility and keep a full tank of gas at all times. Not only does that prevent any water or condensation from freezing in your fuel pump, but if you get stuck, you can keep your engine running and stay warm.
Get an Oil Change
If you use conventional oil in your import, you may want to get an oil change to switch to synthetic or a synthetic blend (assuming it's right for your car!). Synthetic oils often make it easier to start your car in cold weather and are a bit easier on your engine because it has a higher viscosity in cold temperatures. It doesn't need to warm up so it's immediately working to protect your engine as soon as it cranks.
Have an Inspection
If you want to feel confident that your vehicle is ready for the elements this winter, have your scheduled car maintenance. An experienced import auto mechanic in Raleigh will take an in-depth look at your vehicle and make sure your everything is refreshed, topped off, and maintained as needed as well as check to make sure everything is working correctly.
Contact Us for Your Import Vehicle's Maintenance and Repairs
Reliable Import Service offers comprehensive import auto repair and maintenance services in Raleigh, and we are happy to help you make sure your vehicle is ready for winter! Schedule an appointment today or call us at 919-324-3019!