Winterizing Your Car: From the Basics to the Advanced

For those of us who are starting to experience true winter luxuries such as freezing temperatures, snow, and ice, winterizing your car, van, or truck becomes even more crucial. We’re presuming that you’re already making sure to get regular oil changes, alignments, etc. We should all be doing that regardless of season.

Winterizing Your Car: Preparation Basics
First let’s start with the three of the basics. Most of us probably know these, but a little review never hurt anyone.

  1. Make sure you have a Car Survival Kit. Some items it might include are:
    • Snow brush/scraper for snow and ice removal
    • Jumper cables
    • Shovel
    • Blankets (ones that will actually keep you warm in case you’re stranded and lose heat)
    • Emergency flares
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight
    • Water (make sure to pack this to help minimize freezing)
    • Cell phone power (you probably already have one in your car that requires your car’s battery, but I’d suggest one of those portable cell phone chargers in case you lose vehicle power.)
  2. Winter tires.
    They’re specially formulated to give you greater traction and stopping ability in temperatures at or below 45°F. for those of you who don’t buy them (literally. Ha!) at the very least, check your tire pressure and make sure you have a safe amount of tread on them.
  3. Spare tire.
    To help improve fuel efficiency, auto manufacturers have removed the spare tire from several models. If you’re taking a long trip in wintery weather, you may want to consider picking one up over at just in case. You really don’t want to be stuck some place far from civilization in the phone with a flat tire.

Winterizing Your Car: Advanced Preparation
Now let’s get to the actions that we may never have even considered. These are questions we often here asked this time of the year.

Is it too cold to wash your car?
It’s important to wash your vehicle in the winter because of all the salt on the roads. And it turns out that you don’t have to worry about water getting into your locks and causing them to freeze. If a car wash is open, feel free to go on in and get your car washed up.

Is warming up your car in the winter good for the engine?
This is still a somewhat controversial topic. The fact is that your car, van, or truck will warm up most efficiently as it’s being driven. However, for some of us with toddlers, we need the car warm before we get in. I understand it’s not the most efficient, but it’s still necessary. So I’d say the true answer depends on your priorities.

What’s this about summer blend gas and winter blend gas?
It’s true! There’s a difference in the gas you buy in the summer versus the gas you buy in the winter. And the winter blend is less expensive. It’s one of the reasons why gas prices always escalate come summertime. According to AAA, the difference lies in the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the fuel.

RVP is a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The more volatile a gasoline (higher RVP), the easier it evaporates.

Winter-blend fuel has a higher RVP because the fuel must be able to evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, especially when the engine is cold. If the RVP is too low on a frigid day, the vehicle will be hard to start and once started, will run rough.

Who knew? We did! That’s why we’re here. There are many other winter preparation tips.