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How to Winterize your Car

Winter is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to discuss how to winterize your car. As the temperatures drop, it’s essential to ensure that your car is ready to handle the challenges of winter driving.


Rick’s Automotive understands the importance of a well-prepared vehicle, and we’re here to provide you with some valuable tips to get your car winter-ready.


How to Winterize Your Car’s Tires

Your tires are the first line of defense against winter road hazards. Here’s what you need to do:


  • Tire Inspection and Maintenance: Inspect your tires for signs of wear, cracks, and punctures. Any damage can be made worse by winter conditions. Make sure your tires are properly balanced and aligned to prevent uneven wear and reduced traction.
  • Winter Tires: Consider investing in winter tires, especially since Missouri can experience extreme winter weather. Winter tires provide better grip and traction on snow and ice. Ensure that the tires you choose meet industry standards for winter performance.
  • Proper Tire Pressure and Tread Depth: Check your tire pressure regularly, as cold weather can cause tire pressure to drop. Ensure that your tire tread depth is sufficient, as inadequate tread depth reduces your ability to grip the road in slippery conditions.

Fluids and Lubrication

Maintaining the right fluids is essential for your vehicle’s performance and longevity during winter:


  • Engine Oil and Coolant Check: Regularly check your engine oil and coolant levels to ensure they are at the right levels for optimal engine function. Consider switching to a lower-viscosity oil for better performance during cold starts.
  • Antifreeze and Washer Fluids: Ensure your vehicle’s antifreeze is at the correct concentration to prevent freezing, which is essential for protecting the engine and radiator. Keep your windshield washer fluid reservoir filled with a winter-rated fluid to ensure a clear view while driving.
  • Synthetic Oil for Cold Starts: Synthetic oil flows better at low temperatures, reducing wear and tear on the engine during cold morning starts.


Battery and Electrical System

A reliable electrical system is crucial during winter, especially when starting your car in sub-zero temperatures:


  • Battery Health Assessment: Have your battery tested to ensure it’s in good condition. Cold weather can strain a weak battery, potentially leading to a no-start situation. Check the battery terminals and cables for corrosion and ensure a secure connection.
  • Winter Battery Maintenance: Consider installing a battery blanket or an insulated battery box to protect your battery from extreme cold. Keep your vehicle’s electrical system in top shape, including the alternator, starter, and ignition components.
  • Testing Your Vehicle’s Electrical System: Professional diagnostics can uncover potential issues in your vehicle’s electrical system. Addressing these issues early can prevent winter breakdowns.

Brakes and Braking Systems

Your vehicle’s braking system is critical for safety. Here’s what you should do:


  • Brake Inspection: Regularly inspect your brake pads, rotors, and calipers. Worn-out or damaged components can reduce braking efficiency. Listen for any unusual noises when applying the brakes, as this may indicate a problem.
  • Replacing Worn Brake Pads: If your brake pads are worn, replace them promptly. Worn pads can increase stopping distances and reduce your control on icy roads.
  • Brake Fluid Flush and Replacement: Have your brake fluid inspected and replaced as needed. Fresh brake fluid ensures consistent brake performance in cold conditions.

Heating and Defrosting

Keeping warm and maintaining visibility are critical aspects of winter driving.


  • Cabin Heating System: Ensure your vehicle’s heating system is working efficiently. If you notice reduced heating performance, have it checked. Don’t forget to check the HVAC system’s air filters, as clean filters allow for better airflow and heating.
  • Rear Window Defroster: Make sure your rear window defroster is functioning correctly, as it’s essential for clear rear visibility in cold, wet conditions.
  • Effective Windshield Wipers: Replace your windshield wiper blades if they are cracked or damaged. Good wipers are crucial for maintaining a clear windshield. Consider using winter-rated wiper blades designed to handle snow and ice.

Emergency Kit and Winter Accessories

Being prepared for any situation is essential during the winter.


  • Assembling an Emergency Kit: Put together an emergency kit that includes items like a flashlight, blankets, a first-aid kit, non-perishable food, and water. Keep a snow shovel, ice scraper, and a bag of sand or kitty litter in your trunk to help with traction on slippery roads.
  • Snow Chains or Winter Traction Aids: In areas with heavy snowfall, consider purchasing snow chains or traction aids to enhance your tire grip. Practice installing these items before the winter weather hits so you’re prepared when you need them.
  • Blankets, Shovels, and First-Aid Supplies: Keeping warm and being able to dig yourself out of a snowbank are essential in winter emergencies. Ensure your first-aid kit is well-stocked and up to date, as it could be a lifesaver in case of an accident.


Rust Protection and Undercoating

Winter roads are often treated with salt and chemicals to melt snow and ice, but these substances can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s undercarriage:


  • The Menace of Road Salt: Road salt accelerates corrosion and rust on your vehicle’s body and undercarriage. Take proactive steps to protect your vehicle.
  • Preventing Rust and Corrosion: Regularly wash your vehicle to remove salt and grime buildup. Pay special attention to the undercarriage and wheel wells. Waxing your car’s exterior can create an additional barrier against the elements.
  • The Benefits of Undercoating: Consider professional undercoating services to protect the vulnerable parts of your vehicle from salt and moisture. Rust can be a costly issue to address, so prevention is key.

Professional Winterizing Services

While many of these steps can be performed by a dedicated car owner, professional services can ensure your vehicle is fully prepared for winter.


Comprehensive winterization services encompass all aspects of vehicle preparation. At Rick’s Automotive, our experienced technicians are trained to identify potential issues and perform necessary maintenance or repairs. Enroll in our free preventative maintenance plan.


Visit or contact us at Rick’s Automotive today for a comprehensive winterization service. Ensure a trouble-free winter on the road!