Besides all the cold and snow and bluster that goes on with winter, there is also always the fear that something will go wrong with your car — a fear that is realized by many thousands of people each year. It doesn’t have to be that way, though, because there are some things you can do to keep your car running all winter long.
The best thing you can possibly do for your car, of course, is keep it in a heated garage every night, or park it in a garage when you’re at work. Cold and snow can’t bother it when it’s tucked safely away, and you’re battery will thank you all winter long.
But, if you’re like millions of other people and don’t have a garage to keep your car in overnight, there are still some things you can do that will help to keep your car trouble-free.
Engine block heater: One of those things is to buy and use an engine block heater. This is a little gizmo you can buy at the car parts store. It plugs into an outlet in your house on one end and send heat into your engine on the other. If the engine block stays warm, the coolant inside does, too, and when the coolant is warm, your engine doesn’t have to fight just to start. Plus, if your engine block is warm, some of that warmth will seep over to the battery and help it keep fully charged as well.
Bring the battery into the house: Something else you can do when you know it’s going to get really, really cold — like below-zero cold — is disconnect your car battery and bring it into your house. Granted, this is a short-term solution, but it’s one that works really well. When you’re ready to go, you just take your battery with you, hook it up, and your car will almost certainly start for you.
Antifreeze mixture: Also, be absolutely certain that you have the right mixture of antifreeze and water in your radiator. If the mixture is too thin, your coolant will turn to slush, or worse, freeze altogether. This could not only keep your car from starting, it could ruin your engine.
Change your oil before winter arrives: The dirtier oil is, the thicker it becomes when cold. And when it gets really, really cold, it can congeal to something resembling tar, which will make it very difficult for your car to get started — instead of allowing your engine parts to slide smoothly against one another, the congealed oil will make cause those parts to have difficult moving against one another at all. This makes it difficult for the car to get going.
Fill ‘er up: Also, keep your gas take full all winter long. Doing so helps to keep water from building up on the top layer of the gas as temperatures inside the tank grow cold and cause condensation to build up on the inside of your tank. The result is water in your gasoline and you know that can’t be good for starting or even using your engine.
Warm it up before bed: And finally, if you know it’s going to get really, really cold outside, run out and turn it on for awhile before you go to bed. Doing so will juice up the battery, warm up the engine and all your other car parts, and help to keep things from getting so cold overnight, which should help in getting the car to star again in the morning when you’re ready to head to work.