Car Winterization in Houston
So despite what many people think, yes, here in Houston, Texas it is necessary to winterize your vehicle. Even though we do not see feet of snow like parts of the country, we still have days where the temperature drops and we have to deal with freezing temperatures. It is not worth the risk of become stranded because a lack of maintenance or going over a simple check list.
Battery: It is very important to have your battery checked as the weather changes. Extreme cold can put a strain on the battery and some cases; it can go out with little warning. If you notice your cranking speed seems slower or if you have the fuzzy science experiment going on around the battery terminals—definitely take it in to have the battery tested. If the battery tests okay and the CCA (cold cranking amps) are still acceptable then have the shop clean off the terminals. You might also want to ask them to install anti-corrosion battery pads to help avoid this problem in the future. They are pretty inexpensive and are definitely worth the money. The battery is probably the number cause of no starts in the winter time. Check the age of your battery. Many times the date is stamped on the actual battery or you can find a sticker on the battery. If the battery is between 2 to 3 years old (or older) be sure to have it tested.
Defroster/Heater: It is very important to ensure your heater and defroster is working properly. You do not want to find out your heater does not work when you need it most. If you notice it is not heating like it should or the air is not coming properly out of the vents—take the vehicle to a shop to have it checked out. Be sure to remember to keep the air vents free of clutter to and to remove anything that could be blocking them. An important item to note that many people forget about is the cabin air filter. It is important to make sure the cabin air filter is clean so you can ensure proper air flow. Also, be sure to check it after the winter as little critters (such as mice) like to stay in the warmth and have known to leave gross presents (poop) behind.
Lights: Seems like an obvious statement, but make it a point to inspect your lights. Pull up close to your garage door or a wall and test your lights. Lights are so important during the winter since we have less time of sunlight each day. Besides you do not want to get a ticket for the easily avoided light being out.
Coolant: Despite being in Houston, coolant is very important in the winter as well—not just during the inferno of summer. Coolant needs to be inspected and tested for durability. The pH of coolant needs to be between 8 and 11. Anything lower than this the coolant is become more acidic and needs to be replaced. Another important point to make is that coolant needs to be flushed out. Do not drain and fill. Cars today are expected to perform better and operate in much more specific ranges than their predecessors. If you just need to top off the coolant, please use the recommended formula for your vehicle. Do not top off with just water. If the reservoir or radiator is consistently low be sure to have the system tested for leaks.
Wiper blades + Washer fluid: The good time to inspect your wiper blades are really when you are not in immediate need of them. Physically inspect them by looking at their condition, check if they are cracking or fraying at the ends. While you are checking the wipers make sure to test and see how they work. Be sure to also check your washer fluid and top off with actual washer fluid not with water if needed. Sometimes the nozzles can become blocked and you can use a thin wire to clear out the debris from it.
Tire pressure: As the weather fluctuates it is important to have a consistent routine of inspecting your tire pressure since they do tend to lose pressure during temperature changes. It is important to maintain better and optimal traction by ensuring they are at manufacture recommended psi. You can find the manufacture recommended tire pressure in your owner’s manual or on the tire pressure place card visible when you open the driver side door.
Emergency kit: You never know when an emergency may occur and they always seem to happen when we least expect it—like when you’re in your pjs just running down the street for a quick cup of coffee. (We have all done some variation of that at some point.) It is important to keep an emergency kit in your car with a flashlight, jumper cables or a portable jump starter (where another car is not needed), a tool kit, a blanket, paper towels, spare warm clothes, extra washer fluid, and some water and food.
Whether you go to a shop to have your car checked and winterized or if you do it yourself—thank you for being a responsible driver. By spreading awareness to why car care is important we make our roads a little safer with each person.