Winterizing your car is a must in colder parts of the country. But just because the winters in Southern California are more temperate doesn't mean your car doesn't need winter car maintenance. Every car, from a Prius to a Mustang, needs regularly scheduled service no matter what type of winter weather you expect.
Tips for Winter Car Maintenance
These are tips meant for So Cal motorists. Most of these are things you can check for yourself, but for real peace of mind, have a car technician double check.
Tip #1 Check your tire pressure.
When temperatures drop, the air pressure in your tires drops, too. This increases the risk of a blowout and decreases your fuel efficiency. Check your air pressure using a store-bought gauge or at the station the next time you gas up. How much pressure should be in each tire? Check your owner’s manual or find the tire placard (on the car door frame, glove compartment or inside the fuel door). Or look up your vehicle with this handy online tire pressure guide.
Tip #2 Check your tire tread.
The deeper your tire tread, the better your tire traction. This is especially important in Southern California. Rain is often the exception, not the rule. When it finally does rain, the months and months of road grime that has built up make roads treacherous and slippery. An easy way to check your tire tread yourself is by inserting a penny in the tread. Turn Lincoln’s head upside down and put it between the tread. If you can still see his head, you probably need new tires. Take your car in for inspection.
Tip #3 Check your windshield wipers.
Wipers are meant to be replaced every six months. Good visibility is essential when driving, so get those wipers replaced before the winter fog and rain make a muddy mess on your windshield. Some places will even install the wipers for free with purchase.
Tip #4 Get your oil changed.
Let’s face it, oil changes are important for the longevity of your car no matter the time of year. But in winter clean oil helps to protect your engine on those cold start mornings.
Tip #5 Get your car detailed – or at least waxed.
A nice coat of wax will help protect your paint job from salty moisture along the coast and all the grime kicked up on the freeways.
Get Tuned Up Before Winter Hits
Have you been keeping up with factory recommended maintenance on your car? If not, now’s your chance to have your car tuned up and checked out before the Southern California winter hits. You should especially pay attention to your car’s:
- Heating and defrosting system. During a cold snap temps can get down to the 40s. Make sure you and your passengers will be able to stay warm and maintain visibility.
- Battery. Do you remember the last time you had your battery replaced? On average a regular car battery will last 2-5 years. Virtually test your battery here.
- Belts and hoses. Ask your mechanic to make sure your belts and hoses are in tip top shape, free of soft spots, cracks or bulges.
- Antifreeze. Generally, a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze will be enough to keep your car running. Ask your mechanic to test the mixture in your car.
- Brakes. Is it taking longer to stop than usual? Have you been hearing a grinding sound when you brake? Have your brakes inspected before the winter weather starts.
In Southern California we’re lucky that our winters are pretty mild. Unless you’re planning a ski trip to Big Bear or Mammoth, you don’t have to worry about snow chains or snow tires. Following the winter car maintenance tips outlined above will get you through this winter – and hopefully many more!