People are holding on to their cars for longer than ever. Today’s cars are designed to last much longer than in decades past, so many drivers see no need to get rid of their cars after just a couple of years. Although there are numerous financial benefits to keeping older cars, you may be worried about how safely and well it will perform, especially in the winter. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your older car will safely make it all the way through the winter.
Here are 6 tips for keeping an older car running in the winter:
1. Get your car washed regularly
Although this may seem counter-intuitive since winter skies are gray and you’re less likely to drive for enjoyment, getting your car washed even during the winter is not just cosmetic, it’s essential to prolonging the life of your car. Salt, sand, chemicals and other treatments put on the road to help ice melt and provide traction can do some serious damage to the underside of your car, leading to more needed repairs.
2. Change your motor oil for the winter
Motor oil comes in different grades and viscosities. Which oil you should use depends on the type of engine, mileage of your car and the season, and your owner’s manual and mechanic can help advise about which types of oil are best for your specific car. Older cars should ideally use a specially blended motor oil for vehicles with high mileage. In the winter you should choose an oil with the “W” designation, which means that the blended oil will flow better at colder temperatures.
3. Keep your gas tank full at all times
If you’re in the habit of letting your gas tank run close to empty before you fill up, that’s a habit you should break in the winter. Your fuel lines can freeze when your gas tank is below half-full. You don’t want to risk running out of gas and being stranded on the side of the road when the temperatures are freezing outside. If it gets cold enough, gas pumps can even freeze and stop dispensing gas.
4. Invest in some snow tires
Anyone who has driven in the snow knows that it’s hard to get traction on slippery roads. Although all-season tires are popular and adequate in most cases, snow tires can give you better grip and traction and can improve braking. Snow tires may make the difference to keep you from rear-ending another driver on snowy roads.
5. Keep it tuned up
Regular tune ups are an important part of car maintenance, and they become even more crucial as the cars get older and have more mileage. Tune ups can improve your fuel economy by as much as 20 percent. Tune ups clean your fuel injector nozzles and also change some of the car parts that need regular replacement, such as spark plugs, hoses and air filters. Not only will regular tune ups make your car more fuel efficient, it will also reduce your risk of breaking down and being stranded somewhere.
6. Have your battery checked
Dead car batteries are one of the most common reasons for a car (especially an older car) not starting in the winter months. That is because extremely cold temperatures can slow down the chemical reaction that is needed to start a car battery, lessening the battery’s ability to start your vehicle. This is even more common in older batteries. Luckily, this is an easily prevented problem. At the beginning of every winter season, make sure to have your car battery and its charges, connections, posts, cables, & terminals checked and tested. If you have AAA they will even come to you to do that check for you.
Your car should be able to last you for a very long time, even if it has well over 100,000 miles on it. However, proper maintenance is the key to making sure it will not only last but will also ensure that you arrive safely at your destinations no matter the season.