Colder months often bring additional holiday travel, and that means your vehicle needs to be up for the task. Winter can wreak havoc on your car, but between buying gifts and preparing for lengthy road trips, car maintenance may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, maintaining your car's essential fluids can help you stay ahead of the cold.
Read on to learn what fluids in a car need to be changed and how you can maintain them this winter.
Not all fluids that need to be changed in a car are as essential as the one that services your engine. As temperatures drop, engine oil, also known as motor oil, may become thicker or more viscous. And in colder climates that often see below-freezing temperatures, this can be an even bigger issue.
Excessively viscous oil can make your oil pump work harder to lubricate necessary components as well as take longer to lubricate a very cold engine upon startup. To combat this potential problem, make sure you have the right oil, and check to see if your oil needs changing just before the colder season arrives.
Like engine oil, the viscosity of transmission fluid can change and get thicker in colder temperatures. When this happens, the transmission fluid can fail to properly circulate and lubricate parts. Additionally, if the transmission fluid is too old, it may become more viscous, which can add to your cold-weather concerns.
It's generally recommended that you change your automatic transmission fluid about every 60,000 - 100,000 miles or so. Check your owner's manual for more specific intervals.
Antifreeze, also known as engine coolant, helps to keep your car's cooling system in good condition by absorbing some of the heat that your engine generates while running. But in cold temperatures, antifreeze with higher water content can actually freeze within your engine, potentially causing your radiator to crack and hoses to expand. Switching to a formula that’s half antifreeze and half distilled water is one way to prevent this problem.
As winter approaches, prioritize checking yoru coolant levels and condition, and get antifreeze services when needed. Check with one of our technicians about your car's specific requirements.
Your vehicle's brake fluid is responsible for many braking system components. It helps to transfer the pressure of your foot to the brakes, and it lubricates and protects the brake system from corrosion. To make sure your brake fluid is up to speed, have one of our skilled technicians inspect the quality and level of the brake fluid in your vehicle.
Windshield Washer Fluid
In the winter months, your windshield wipers are likely to come in handy. Whether you're trying to see through snow or shuck ice from your windshield, visibility is an essential factor in winter driving and otherwise.
Since windshield wiper fluid can freeze as temperatures drop (some windshield washer fluids are advertised to only protect at up to 32F), it's best to stay ahead of this potential problem. If there is a chance that your washer fluid is low or if outside temperatures are likely to drop below freezing, replace your washer fluid with an antifreeze wiper fluid or a winter solution as colder weather approaches.
Windshield wiper fluid that's designed for winter weather can help resist freezing and help loosen ice and snow. Since your windshield fluid can freeze to your windshield in temperatures as low as 32 degrees, it's a good idea to make the switch.
Pro-tip: Never attempt to remedy frozen windshield washer fluid by pouring hot water onto the nozzles or windshield. Doing this can crack the glass.
Check Your Oil Levels and Conditions at Tires Plus
At Tires Plus, we will never recommend a service or repair if it's not needed. Get all of your winter fluid car inspections done by one of our technicians, and we'll let you know which ones need to be serviced. Schedule an appointment at your nearest Tires Plus to keep your vehicle running smoothly this winter!