Don’t Be Left Out In The Cold: Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter

Auto repair in Canada takes on a greater urgency when the bitter cold of winter arrives, causing breakdowns of vehicles that are not prepared for the frigid temperatures, and danger to drivers who may be left stranded in the cold when their vehicle fails.

There are various parts of your vehicle that are vulnerable to cold weather and that should be checked and repaired before winter arrives, including the following components.

The battery

More than any other part of your vehicle, your battery is the most vulnerable to extremely cold temperatures. You must be sure that it is clean and capable of holding a charge.

You can check your battery by removing the battery cable clamps from the two terminals on top. You will need a small adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts that hold the clamps in place. Remove the clamp from the positive terminal first (the side that is marked with a "+" sign), then remove the other clamp. 

If the terminals are covered with a white powder, it is corrosion, and needs to be removed from the terminals and from inside the cable clamps. You can do this with a piece of light sandpaper or an emery board.

After it is cleaned, remove the nut on the clamp that holds the battery in place, and take your battery to a local auto parts store to have it tested. They will usually not charge for this service, hoping that you'll buy a battery from them if yours is defective, or buy one in the future if it is sound.

Reverse the removal procedures above to reinstall your battery.

Belts and hoses

Because belts and hoses are made from pliable materials, they are especially vulnerable to extreme cold, because their pliability causes them to contract in size as temperatures drop, then expand again as temperatures rise or as they heat from performing their duties.

Belts and hoses should be soft to the touch but still firm, with no visible cracks or worn areas. Hoses should be inspected for small bubbles on their surface, which indicates a weak point in the hose wall that is likely to burst under pressure.

If your belts are shiny on their inner side, this is an indication that they have been worn down by friction and need to be replaced. The sound of a bird chirping when you start your vehicle is also the sign of a worn belt.

Motor oil

Thick oil takes longer to warm and circulate in your engine when the weather is cold. You should have your oil changed to a low viscosity winter variety to assist your vehicle in starting in sub-zero weather. 

A local auto service center like Accurate Transmission & Auto Centre Ltd will be able to recommend further weather related service work, depending on the province in which you live and the extremes in temperature that you and your vehicle are likely to face.