How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather

Winter weather can be tough on your car – especially here in Minnesota! With harsh weather conditions and freezing temperatures, it’s essential to make sure your car is well-maintained and winter-ready. Not only will maintenance keep you from breaking down in the snow, but it will also help prolong the life of your vehicle – and save you money in the long run.

Here are three easy maintenance tasks that any car owner can do themselves, no matter their automotive skill level:

  • Replace your windshield wiper blades
  • Refill your windshield washer fluid (be sure to use one that’s winter-safe!)
  • Check your tire pressure

Doing these three tasks can make your drive during winter weather significantly safer. New wiper blades and washer fluid give you better visibility during rain, sleet, or snow. Maintaining the proper tire pressure will provide better traction on slick roads and help your car handle better.

The best way to get your car prepared for winter is to schedule an appointment with Signal Garage. Since every vehicle is different, we don’t have a set “winterization” routine. Our skilled technicians will do a thorough inspection of your vehicle and advise you on what’s needed to make it as safe and reliable as possible for the winter season.

Here are some things that we check with every pre-winter inspection:

  • Antifreeze – We test the antifreeze to ensure that it’s able to protect your engine in even the coldest temperatures. This is important because if your antifreeze is old, there’s a chance it could freeze in your radiator. When this happens, the coolant can’t circulate and the engine may overheat, even in low temperatures. It can also lead to leaks and part failures. 
  • Tires – We always take a look at the tire wear and pressure. Your tires are one of the most critical factors for safe driving in the winter. Tire pressure tends to drop in cold weather, which can affect traction and increase your chances of having a blowout. Having the proper tread depth allows your tires to grip in rain and snow-covered roads. Without enough tread on your tires, the risks of having an accident are much higher.

We also check the tire pressure and look for possible leaks in low tires. The cold winter air causes your tires to contract, which can make slow leaks much worse, so it’s better to fix leaks or even buy new tires before the winter to avoid needing to change them in the snow. If you’re considering snow tires, just ask! We’d be happy to give you a rundown of the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

  • Windshield washer fluid – We see vehicles with frozen washer fluid every year. Thankfully, this is a problem that can easily be avoided. Not only will frozen washer fluid prevent your washer system from working, but it could reduce your visibility while driving. Frozen fluid can also damage the washer pump, the reservoir, and the lines – all of which can be an expensive fix! We recommend you use up all your existing washer fluid, then schedule an appointment with us. We’ll inspect your vehicle and fill up your washer reservoir with a winter-safe fluid that won’t freeze until temperatures hit -20°. If your fluid is getting low before your appointment, stop by our shop and we’ll top it off for you.
  • Steering and suspension components – While these parts aren’t likely to fail due to cold temperatures, a loose part on a slippery road can be a serious safety hazard. We check the wear of these components to ensure that everything is tightened down and working as it should.
  • General Inspection – We also do an overall general inspection of your vehicle. This is key to ensuring that you don’t have to worry about breaking down in the cold. We wouldn’t want our family members breaking down in the winter, and we certainly don’t want our customers to either! Our technicians pay close, careful attention during these inspections. We check your fluids, belts, hoses, steering, suspension, and more to make sure your vehicle will be reliable and safe throughout the season.

Regular maintenance and inspections are critical to avoid breakdowns year-round. Once you’ve had your pre-winter inspection, remember to get your oil change, vehicle inspection, and maintenance done every 3000 – 5000 miles (depending on the type of oil you use).

Wintertime is on the way, so if there’s anything your vehicle needs, you can always bring it to Signal Garage! We’ll make sure your vehicle is safe, reliable, and ready to handle anything winter throws our way. 

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