Though it may not officially be winter yet, we have already had plenty of winter weather. That means it’s time to winterize your car and make sure that your beloved Kia is prepared for the upcoming New Jersey winter. If you’ve ever gone out to start your car in the morning, warming it up before you leave for work or school, and found that your battery is dead, or found your car sliding across even the smallest patches of ice, or simply had to sit in cold winter traffic for hours on end, you know how important it is to prepare your car for the cold weather of winter. We have ten tips for making sure your car is as prepared for the cold season as possible.
1. Start or update an emergency kit.
Winter is the season when car emergencies of any kind can be especially devastating. Whether it’s just a blown tire or a wreck caused by ice on the highway, you want to have a few tools and a little bit of gear handy. Whether you are just stopped waiting for highway patrol to clear away the crash or are involved in the crash yourself. Some of the most essential items include jumper cables, ice scraper, flashlights, a screwdriver, extra gloves, and a blanket. You might consider throwing in a few bottles of water and granola bars, just in case you are stuck in a snow drift or on the highway for a few hours.
2. Check your Kia’s belts and hoses.
Even if you just had your belts and hoses checked during the summer, summer heat rarely puts as much strain on these engine components as extreme cold weather does. Cold can weaken the rubber, allowing it to snap, even while your car is in motion. Replace any hoses or belts that look worse for wear.
3. It’s time for new windshield wipers and fluid.
If you haven’t gotten your Kia new windshield wipers this year, they can be the perfect Christmas present for your car. If you’ve ever driven through a snow or ice storm with last year’s wipers, you know the difference that brand new wipers can make. Summer heat can dry out the blades and make them less effective at clearing your windshield. When you’re in a jam, with ice and snow building up on your windshield, fluid can help melt and remove these annoyances, so make sure you’re fully stocked.
4. Make sure your defrost and heat are in top condition.
Bring your car in and let us check your defrost and heat units—you don’t want to discover that these things aren’t working when you’re already fifteen minutes late to work. These are essential in the cold New Jersey winter, and you don’t want to be without them.
5. Always gas up.
It might not get cold enough to freeze gas here (most years), but the cold weather could bring condensation into your gas tank, which could eventually invade your fuel lines and cause them to freeze and split. If you keep your gas tank full of gasoline, however, you’re less likely to encounter this problem, and the more gas you have in your tank, the less likely it is to turn to sludge in freezing temperatures.
6. Make sure your antifreeze levels are correct.
Antifreeze helps to prevent your engine from freezing, but only if you have the right ratio of antifreeze to water in your radiator. One part antifreeze to one part water is consider optimal, especially in subzero temperatures. If you don’t feel comfortable checking your Kia’s levels on your own, you can always let our service department do it.
7. Check your oil.
Before it becomes too cold to stand outside and check your oil, make sure you have enough for the coming season and that it isn’t getting too thick. Cold weather can cause oil to thicken, which means the oil might not flow as freely as your engine needs it to. Look at your Kia Ownership Manual to see what kind of oil is best for your vehicle. Again, if you do not feel comfortable checking and replenishing your oil supply, you can come into our service department and we will do it for you.
8. Check your battery.
Even if you just bought your Kia this year, check the battery before temperatures really start to drop. Cold weather makes your battery work harder and it can be extremely annoying to have to jump it at night in a snowy parking lot after holiday shopping. Check for any corrosion or fraying on the cables and battery terminals. Even the best batteries can die after five years, even if you take good care of your car, so make sure that yours is ready for the oncoming storm.
9. Check your tires.
As temperature drops, the air in your tires will contract and they will lose tire pressure. That means that you will likely need to give them some more air as days continue to get colder and colder. Not having enough air in your tires means less than optimal traction, which is a bad thing even in the best of weather and can be devastating in winter weather. Make sure that they are filled to their required pressure and check them regularly throughout the season.
10. Consider snow tires.
While most cities in New Jersey do a good job of clearing their roads, sometimes there’s no helping going out on snowy, icy roads. If you already know that you are going to be doing a lot of winter driving, snow tires can make a big difference. Not only can they help you get out a jam, they can prevent sliding on slick streets and can even make it easier to plow your way through a snow drift.