Prepare Your Vehicle for Cold Weather Driving

Car Care Tips For Winter


Whether your winter days and nights are spent hustling and bustling around town, or heading over the river and through the woods, chances are that some part of your day involves driving. Frigid temperatures and poor road conditions can take a toll on any driver, but it's important to remember that such conditions can, and will, take a toll on your vehicle, too.

"As temperatures continue to drop, there are a few things that you should do to ensure that your vehicle is winter weather ready," said Mark Salem, ASE Certified Master Technician and host of "Under the Hood," a radio car-care show in Phoenix.

Salem advises that drivers do the following things to ensure that their vehicle is prepared for the winter weather:

    --  Crank up the heat: Don't wait until snow is on the ground or
        frost is on your windshield to test out your heater and
        defroster. "Exercise all the heater and defrost settings
        before winter weather strikes to make sure that they are
        working properly and address any problems immediately," said
        Salem. "The comfort of you and your passengers depends on it."

    --  Check your oil: During winter, you need an oil that can handle
        low temperatures and quickly flow to critical engine parts on
        those cold mornings. According to Salem, a fully synthetic oil
        such as Mobil 1 is ideal for the winter months. "Mobil 1 is
        designed to flow well even in lower temperatures and is an
        excellent oil overall," said Salem. (For more information
        about Mobil 1, go to

    --  Test your tires: "Your tire pressure will go down as the
        weather cools, so make sure your tires are inflated properly,"
        said Salem. "Too little pressure will increase wear and
        increase your fuel consumption; too much pressure can reduce
        traction, especially in icy conditions." The proper air
        pressure listings are often found on the side of the driver's
        door, or in the owner's manual. Salem recommends making sure
        you also inspect your treads and replace any tires that look

    --  Stock the trunk: It's always smart to be prepared, so keep a
        few useful items in the trunk. "I'd recommend including a
        small shovel to help dig out of snow; an ice scraper to clear
        windows, headlights and taillights of snow and ice; and a bag
        of sand to add weight and improve traction while driving in
        winter weather," said Salem. "It's also a good idea to keep a
        set of jumper cables in your car to help get you back on the
        road if your battery dies." Finally, throw an extra blanket,
        hat, gloves, a gallon of drinking water, and some high energy
        snacks in the trunk, just in case.

    --  Allow extra time at start-up: Let your vehicle warm up before
        hitting the highway. "Allowing the engine to idle for a few
        seconds before driving off will ensure proper oil flow and
        lubrication," said Salem. "That said, don't allow the engine
        to idle for a prolonged period after start-up in cold weather.
        This doesn't do anything to warm drive-train components, and
        wastes fuel." After starting your car and allowing it to idle
        for a short time, just drive easily for several miles to
        ensure proper vehicle warm-up. Salem recommends keeping this
        simple rule of thumb in mind: if your car is a 1990 model or
        older, allow it to idle no longer than 3 to 4 minutes. For
        newer vehicles, a minute or two is all you need.

"Don't forget to make time for your vehicle this winter," said Salem. "Proper maintenance and preparation will help ensure that you and your passengers don't get caught out in the cold."

For more information on vehicle maintenance, visit

Mobil 1 is a trademark of Exxon Mobil Corporation or one of its subsidiaries.

Source: Exxon Mobil Corporation