If you’ve been wondering “how do I prepare my car for winter?” our simple printable checklist will show you how to winterize a car in 7 steps. Sponsored by Toco Warranty.
How to Winterize a Car
A few months ago, we shared our summer car care checklist with tips to get your car ready for hot summer weather.
However, as the temperatures drop, it’s equally important to learn how to winterize your car.
Though where we live in Texas is hot for nine months out of the year, we occasionally do experience cold and icy road conditions.
Since the weather has finally started to cool off, we’re going through our winterizing checklist to make sure that all of our vehicles are ready to go!
Over the course of our year-long partnership with Toco Warranty, we’ve learned a lot of handy car care tips and we’re excited to share them with you, so you can make every mile count!
What is Winterizing a Car?
The term “winterizing” is simple a one-word term to describe getting a car ready for winter.
Cold and wet winter weather conditions are harsh on car parts as well as more difficult for driving. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your vehicle and keep your family safer while on the roads.
Do I Need to Winterize My Car?
While it is especially important to get your car ready for winter if you live in a colder climate, knowing how to winterize a car is a must for all drivers.
That way you’re prepared for anything!
How to Winterize Your Car in 7 Steps
The following steps will help ensure that your vehicle is ready for winter weather and driving conditions. A free printable checklist is available at the bottom of the post.
1. Check or Change the Battery
In cold temperatures, your car requires up to twice the amount of battery current to start. Plus, when the thermometer hits the freezing mark, a car battery loses over 1/3 of its strength.
That’s a lot of pressure on any battery, not to mention one that might already be on its last leg.
It’s no wonder that one of the top reasons for calls to roadside assistance in the winter is a dead battery!
Before the weather turns cooler, have your car’s battery checked and replaced as needed. We did! Even though we have 24/7 roadside assistance from Toco Warranty (more on that in a bit), I’d still rather not be stuck beside the road for any amount of time due to a preventable issue like a dead battery.
2. Adjust Tire Pressure
Did you know that the outdoor temperature directly affects your car’s tire pressure? Molecules move faster in warmer temperatures, leading to an increase in pressure. The opposite is true in winter, where molecules are packed more densely together and move more slowly.
For every 10°F drop in temperature, your car tires can lose 1-2 pounds per square inch (PSI) of tire pressure. That’s why it’s so important to adjust your car tire pressure accordingly when the weather begins to change.
To find out the ideal tire pressure for your particular make and model, check your owner’s manual. Then you’ll want to check your tires each time you fill up for gas to be sure you’re maintaining the correct tire pressure.
3. Check Tire Tread
Worn tired tread won’t grip a wet or icy road well and can create a dangerous driving situation. That’s why you should always make sure that your tires are still in good shape before winter hits.
The “penny test” is an easy way to check if your tires still have enough tread – click here to see how it’s done.
If you live in an area that experiences a lot of snow and ice, you may consider putting on snow tires for the season.
4. Check the Coolant/Antifreeze
When the weather turns cold, it’s easy to become less concerned about checking the coolant levels in our cars.
However, coolant (also known as “antifreeze”) serves another purpose, which is especially important in winter. There is a compound in antifreeze known as glycol, which prevents the liquids in your car’s engine from turning to ice when temperatures dip below freezing. Now it makes sense where the name antifreeze comes from!
Experts recommend using a 50/50 mixture of water and glycol in your car. That’s because too much coolant could potentially damage your engine, while too much water could freeze.
The perfect coolant mix will ensure that your engine keeps running smoothly, even in the worst winter weather!
5. Protect Windshield Wiper Blades
If you find that your car windshield frosted or froze overnight, always use an ice scraper to clear away the ice. Attempting to use wiper blades for the task could damage them.
To prevent your wiper blades from getting stuck to the windshield, pull them away from the glass when you park your car for the night.
While you’re at it, be sure to make sure your wiper fluid is filled too!
6. Pack a Winter Car Emergency Kit
Helpful items to have on hand include:
- Ice scraper
- Tire chains
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Road flares
Even though I can count on 24/7 roadside assistance from Toco Warranty, I like to keep my car stocked with these “just in case” winter emergency items.
Speaking of Toco Warranty…
7. Protect Yourself from Winter Breakdowns with a VSC from Toco Warranty
A vehicle service contract (VSC) from Toco Warranty provides peace of mind during the winter months, when driving conditions are not always ideal.
I have quite a few stories from my college days in Morgantown, West Virginia – where winter snow and windy mountain roads made for some scary situations!
Even here in Texas, a sudden cold snap can make driving dangerous. Since snow is a rarity, there are no plows or salt trucks standing by to clear the roads.
We try to stay home if there is freezing rain in the forecast, but I feel better knowing that Toco has us covered when we do have to hit the road!
What is a Vehicle Service Contract (VSC)?
A vehicle service contract is an easy way to make sure that you’re protected in case of a covered breakdown. Because who wants to be stuck with an unexpected repair bill during the holiday season!
Full disclosure — I used to be skeptical about extended warranties because I assumed that they would try to lock you into a contract or require an up-front payment to get started.
However, Toco Warranty is not at all what I expected – in a good way!
Toco keeps it simple with pay-as-you-go plans for as long as you want coverage, no money down, and no binding contract. Choose your plan, make an affordable monthly payment, and you’re covered when breakdowns happen!*
Plus, Toco Warranty Provides These Valuable Extras:
- Reliable customer service — they’ll walk you through the entire process to make sure everything goes just right, and they offer a dedicated concierge for all of your needs.
- 24-hour roadside assistance — for 365 days a year, help is always just a call away!
- Nationwide repair facilities — you can choose the mechanic from a nationwide list of covered facilities.
- MyToco Portal – view your account information, download electronic documents, manage payment plans, send a referral and live chat with a Toco Customer Care specialist.
We’ve been with Toco Warranty for almost a year now, and while we fortunately haven’t had any major car issues, I feel so much better knowing that Toco is there just in case!
LAST CHANCE OFFER: I’m excited to share with you a special deal available ONLY to fans of The Soccer Mom Blog! Use promo code “SOCCER” to save 50% on your first month! CLICK HERE to make every mile count with Toco Warranty!
Printable Winter Car Care Checklist
Fill out the form below for a printable copy of our winter car maintenance checklist:
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