You probably seal your home’s windows and service your furnace before winter comes—but what about your car? It’s your home on wheels and it could also use some winterizing to improve its performance and safety during the cold months. And if this Maryland winter is going to be anything like the last one, you know you need your car to be in the top shape. Follow these steps to schedule all necessary Maryland auto services before the cold settles in and get your car prepared for winter.
Clean out Your Garage
This might not be your first thought on winterizing your car, but it’s definitely one worth considering. If you have a garage you use for storage instead of its original purpose, winter is the time you could really use it as intended. Think of all the ice-scraping (and damaged top coat) you could avoid by sheltering your car under a roof. That’s at least 10 extra minutes you can spend in a nice, warm bed in the morning. And if your garage is attached to a house, it might stay warm enough to prevent your car’s liquids and components from freezing, allowing for a smoother start and less wear.
Top Off the Fluids
- Flush and refill the coolant if you haven’t done this in the past couple of years. Don’t forget that the proper ratio is 50/50 water and antifreeze.
- Change the windshield wiper fluid with the one that doesn’t freeze.
- Perform a scheduled oil change and go with a low- or multi-viscosity oil to better lubricate the engine in the cold weather.
- Check transmission fluid and fill up if necessary.
- Try to keep at least half a tank of gas to reduce condensation inside the tank and avoid running out when you are stuck in traffic for hours.
Repair and Replace
If your car has outstanding maintenance or ongoing issues you’ve been meaning to address, now is the time to do this. Get that check engine light looked at, replace the squeaky alternator belt and get your tires rotated. As far as you know, your car should be entering winter with no known problems. Otherwise, you risk getting stranded in the bitter cold.
A few other things to take care of:
- replace worn windshield wipers
- check the tire tread, pressure and replace or upgrade to winter tires if necessary
- check the lights, including hazard lights, and replace the bulbs as needed
- repair any windshield cracks to ensure maximum visibility
- check the battery to ensure it’s performing well
Check the Brakes
Good brakes and grippy tires are probably the two most important features your car could use this winter. Get your brakes examined and brake pads replaced before the roads get icy. And if you hurry and do this during the month of October, you can get brake pads for free at Hillmuth Automotive. As a part of the Brakes for Breasts initiative, we are giving FREE brake pads (up to $79.95) to customers who come for brake service. You just need to pay for labor and we’ll donate 10% of this cost to The Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Research Fund.
Have an Emergency Plan
We hope this won’t happen, but let’s say you do get stuck in a traffic jam caused by a heavy snowfall or your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. You could be forced to stay in your car for a while until the roads get better or someone can come get you. Here are some items you should keep in your car in case of an emergency:
- a warm blanket and a pair of gloves
- a flashlight, flares and a first aid kit
- water and snacks such as energy bars
- jumper cables and a spare tire
- a small shovel and an ice scraper
- a car charger for your cell phone
You might never need or use these items, but being prepared gives you that peace of mind. Simply knowing that no emergency can catch you off guard lets you be more relaxed and focused when driving.
Need help with these or any other Maryland auto services? You know we’ll take good care of your vehicle at Hillmuth Automotive. Just stop by one of our locations in Clarksville, Columbia, Gaithersburg or Glenwood, or contact us to schedule an appointment.