My dad is the master of maintenance. As in, he doesn’t just clean my dryer exhaust for me at regularly scheduled intervals, he also writes the dates of service on the side of the machine with a marker. His excruciating attention to detail can make one feel inadequate at times. (“I cleaned the dust container from the electric broom. It was filthy and that’s why it wasn’t picking anything up.”) But mostly, I don’t know what I would ever do without his advice and super-able assistance.
Unsurprisingly, he’s also a cauldron of knowledge for all things automotive, an area where I am severely lacking. Last winter, I found myself stuck on more than one occasion: my windshield wipers were out of fluid on a particularly rainy evening; I couldn’t find the snow brush after a surprise storm and I needed to get the kids to school. Neither is going to happen this year, because I recently sat down with Dad and took note of everything I (and you!) need to do to winterize your car for the season.
Dad says: “Wipers should be changed once a year or so. Take a close look at them. Are they cracked? Do the blades look rounded and worn? Pay attention to their performance. When it rains, do they streak? Are there areas that don’t get wiped? Make sure there’s plenty of washer fluid and it’s the right strength. If you’re diluting it with water, it will be more likely to freeze in winter, and you don’t want that.”
Pro tip: “I like to treat and prep my windshield with Rain-X. It makes the windshield easier to clean and the wipers seem to work better.”
Get plenty of fluids
Dad says: “In addition to windshield washer fluids, check things like motor oil, transmission and brake fluids, and antifreeze. If you’re not someone comfortable under the hood, bring it in to be serviced—just be specific about what you want checked because they may not do everything during a standard visit.”
Pro tip: “If you feel somewhat capable, how-to videos on YouTube can help walk you through it.”
Dad says: “The colder it gets, the less air pressure in your tires; they also need decent tread for snow. You should check tires regularly before and during the winter months.”
Now hear this
Dad says: “Car batteries that are more than five years old can go at any time, especially in really hot or really cold weather. In the winter, you also want to make sure your exhaust system is good. Because your windows will be closed, if there’s a leak those fumes are just going to seep up into the car for the driver and passengers to breathe. “
Pro tip: “Pay attention when you start the car in really cold weather. If it’s cranking slower, you may want to replace the battery before it fails. To listen to the exhaust, open the windows in the car when its idling and ‘race’ it to hear if it sounds noisier or different than usual.”
KIT ‘N CABOODLE
Pro tip: “It’s not a bad idea to keep a blanket and extra set of warm clothes in the trunk in case you get stuck in a snowstorm or find yourself without heat waiting for a tow.”