Caring for your vehicle in extreme cold weather, such as temperatures well below freezing, requires special attention to ensure it operates safely and reliably. The last few days have seen some really cold weather across Alberta.
Here are essential tips for vehicle care in such conditions:
Battery Maintenance: Cold weather can drastically reduce a battery’s efficiency. Have your battery tested and replace it if necessary. Using a battery blanket or parking your vehicle in a garage can help maintain battery warmth.
Engine Oil: Use the right grade of oil for cold temperatures. In extreme cold, oil thickens, making it harder for your engine to run. Check your vehicle’s manual for the recommended oil viscosity for low temperatures.
Antifreeze and Coolant: Ensure your vehicle has the correct antifreeze/coolant mixture to prevent freezing in the radiator. A typical mix is 50% antifreeze and 50% water, but consult your vehicle’s manual for specific recommendations.
Tire Care: Cold air can decrease tire pressure, so regularly check and adjust the pressure. Consider using winter tires for improved traction in snow and ice.
Fuel Levels: Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing due to moisture.
Emergency Kit: Equip your vehicle with a winter emergency kit, including blankets, extra warm clothing, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, a shovel, and some non-perishable food items.
Windshield and Wipers: Use a winter formula windshield washer fluid and install winter wiper blades. Always have an ice scraper and snow brush handy.
Vehicle Warm-Up: Let your car warm up for a few minutes before driving to allow the engine and oil to reach a more efficient operating temperature. Consider remote starting your car.
Driving Techniques: Drive cautiously, accelerating and decelerating slowly to avoid skids. Increase your following distance to ensure you have more time to stop.
Block Heater: In extremely cold climates, using a block heater can help keep the engine at a more manageable temperature, aiding in easier starts and less engine wear during cold starts.
Exhaust System: Regularly check your vehicle’s exhaust system to ensure it’s not blocked by ice or snow, as this can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup inside the vehicle.
Car Wash: Rinse off salt and grime, which can cause corrosion, but be mindful of the temperature, as washing in extremely cold weather can lead to freezing locks and doors.
Adhering to these guidelines can greatly increase the reliability and performance of your vehicle in extreme cold conditions. However, if the weather conditions are too harsh, consider avoiding driving unless absolutely necessary for safety reasons.