Prepping your car for winter: It’s fall maintenance time!

the word cold written into the frost on a car windowDark nights, wet roads, cold weather.

At Budds’, we know it’s no fun driving in an Ontario winter. (And we’re not even talking about the fact that the sun goes down at about 4:30.)

But knowing your car is prepared can make winter a little less stressful.

Here’s a look at what needs doing and why—plus how to make it happen.

Winter brings difficult conditions

Low temperatures aren’t entirely bad. There’s hockey, skating, and maybe skiing and snowmobiling to look forward to.

If only your car was as happy to see winter weather.

Bitter cold kills aging batteries, leaving you unable to get to work. Windshield washer fluid freezes, which of course you forget when you go to wipe away that yucky road grime. And that’s not the end of your problems.

Roads are dark, wet and slippery. Sometimes there’s fog too. It’s all too easy to have an accident and perhaps find yourself stranded at the side of the road.

Worse, what if that happens to someone else who uses your car? Late night pleas for rescue are something we can all do without. That’s why you need to get your car ready.

How to prepare your car for winter weather

Fall is the time to prepare your vehicle for the harsher conditions ahead. Here’s a list of the main points to check:

  • Wiper blades. These should work smoothly without juddering or smearing.
  • Washer fluid. This needs the right concentration of winter screen wash so it doesn’t freeze on you. (Most gas stations switch to selling a winter blend, so don’t worry too much about finding the “right” stuff; it’s usually enough just to make sure to change it in the fall.)
  • Battery and terminals. Your battery’s charging system works overtime through the winter, running lights and the heater (and if you’re lucky, heated seats). That means you need to know the battery is charging properly—and can hold its charge through cold winter nights.
  • Coolant. You may think of coolant as, well, the fluid that cools your engine. But it also works as an antifreeze—which means your car needs the right type in the right concentration.
  • Belts and hoses. Rubber stiffens at low temperatures so it’s important to get your belts and hoses checked for any signs of cracking. If you’re at all in doubt, these components are best replaced.
  • Lights. You need to see and be seen on those dark nights. Enough said.
  • Filters. Summer is hard on both your engine and the cabin air filters, thanks to all the dust and pollen in the air. (A blocked cabin air filter will stop air blowing through to demist the windshield.) Fall is a good time to change them out and keep everything working efficiently through the winter.
  • Tires (including the spare.) Make sure your treads are deep enough to clear water, slush, and snow. Never, ever skimp on tires.
  • Brakes. Truthfully, brakes are something to check year-round and not just in the fall. But there’s never a bad time to make sure you’ve got plenty of friction material on the pads and that the pedal feels firm.

Other things you can do to prepare for winter

A young man is checking under the car hood while talking on a cell phone.In addition to inspecting and bringing your car up to winter standard, there are a couple of other actions worth taking.

First, get your winter tires fitted. All-seasons aren’t up to handling the low temperatures we experience even in relatively mild southern Ontario. And if you’re on summer tires you really don’t want to be caught out by that first dusting of snow!

And put an emergency kit in the car, if you haven’t got one. If you do, check what’s expired and replace as necessary. (At a minimum a good kit includes a way of charging your mobile phone, a blanket, a flashlight and something to eat.)

The best time for a pre-winter check-up

This one’s a no-brainer—the best time to get your car ready for snow is… Before it snows!

If you wait until winter arrives you’ll find your favorite service techs are busy, which means it may take a few days to get in. (Or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, do you really want to be peering under the hood in the dark in a freezing garage or driveway?)

Fall maintenance made easy

The simplest way to get your car checked for winter? A professional inspection at Budds’ Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC.

Our service experts know cars inside and out. They’ll give yours the once-over—both around the car and under the hood—to make sure everything’s in order. If fluids are low they’ll top them up and they’ll take care of any minor fixes. (And of course, if they find anything more major that needs work—worn brake pads for example—we’ll call you first.)

So if you’re looking to get your car tuned up for winter, bring it into Budds’.

And remember… While we have absolutely no interest in speeding up winter’s arrival—we’d still love to see you soon.