How to winterize your car

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As the season begins to change from fall to winter, students and community members will be preparing for the coming snow in many ways, but especially in preparing their vehicles.

Prior to winter, there are five parts of a vehicle that should be checked, according to Don Wilson, associate professor of the automotive technology department at UVU: brakes, tires, engine, windshield wipers and headlights.

The brakes and the tires are the most important parts to your car.

“They are simple, but overlooked,” Wilson said.

Along with receiving a standard inspection of the brake pads and brake fluid, make sure to check the tire pressure of all the tires. As temperatures decrease, tires will automatically lose pressure requiring them to be filled regularly. Through regular wear and tear, tires can bald, too.

“Tire balding is where the tread on the tires wears down so they are slick. There are no grooves to grip the snow or ice,” said Tyler Christensen, a senior in the automotive technology department program.

To counteract the issue of tire balding there are two options. First, applying snow tires or tires with studs can increase the amount of traction the vehicle has. However, these are primarily used for extreme weather conditions.

A less aggressive approach with this same result is having the tires siped. This is where the tread on the tires is cut down, giving them more surface area and more traction.

The engine is an important component of a vehicle as well. The antifreeze should be set for zero degrees and below. Any maintenance shop should be able to check the antifreeze.

Next, make sure the windshield wipers and the windshield wiper fluid are working properly.

“Use the fluid,” Wilson said, “that’s what it is there for. It can save you from a tragedy.”

Once the fluid runs out, do not use water in place of new coolant. In the winter, water can freeze overnight inside of the windshield wiper reservoir.

“As it freezes and then expands, it can crack the engine, destroying it,” Christensen said.

“Also, if you know that a storm is coming, lift up the windshield wipers so that they are sticking straight out. This way they don’t freeze to the windshield overnight,” Christensen said.

The freezing of condensation on windows is another common problem in the winter. According to multiple websites and blogs, spraying a thin layer of vinegar across the windshield will prevent ice buildup in the morning.

Covering the windshield in either blankets or rugs can minimize the amount of ice that will need to be scraped off in the morning too.

If ice is still a major problem, let the vehicle idle for a few minutes before driving. Not only will this melt the frost on the windshield, but it can actually extend the life of the vehicle. When a car is turned on and then immediately driven, excessive wear is forced onto the components of the car because the oil has not had time to warm up to move throughout the vehicle.

Finally, have the headlights aimed properly. According to Wilson, this can prevent glaring from the reflection of the headlights on the snow during storms. Make sure the bulbs aren’t burned out and that the low beams are aimed low.

In the end, keeping up on the maintenance of the vehicle all year is the best way to have your car ready for winter.

“Maintain your car as regularly as possible and its life will increase dramatically,” Christensen said.