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    Tractor Supply Company

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    Winterize Your vehicle in 10 steps

    Authored by Diane Conklin

    Winterize your vehicle and keep it running smoothly during the cold months with these 10 steps.

    1. Protect your vehicle's exterior

    Ice and snow are rough on vehicles, but road salt can be even rougher. Salt has a corrosive effect, so start off the winter with a fresh coat of wax and wash your vehicle often to rid it of salt buildup. Protective sprays are also available for both under bodies and exteriors.   

    2. Take a look at belts and hoses

    Cold weather can be particularly hard on belts and hoses, be sure to have them checked out to make sure they're up to snuff before cold weather sets in.    

    3. Change windshield washer fluid

    Not all fluids are suitable for sub-zero temperatures. Fair-weather fluids can freeze on contact with your windshield during an extreme cold snap, or even seize up inside the reservoir under your hood. Check the label and make sure your windshield washer fluid can take what your climate dishes out.

    4. Make sure your battery is up to par

     Batteries are easy to overlook when winterizing vehicles. Check your battery's age and life cycle and make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion before the weather turns cold. If you've had your battery for a while, now might be the time to consider a replacement.   

    5. Top off the antifreeze

    Now is also the time to not only make sure you have enough antifreeze in your cooling system, but to make sure it is at the right mixture. Read and follow your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations, but a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water is considered the ideal ratio for most weather conditions. 

    6. Check tires

    Full tires supply better traction, essential in snowy and icy conditions. Be sure to check and follow the mfg.'s placard inside the door on your vehicle for tire pressure instructions, they don't always match what's on the tire. Cold weather can make air pressure drop. Be sure to check the pressure and pump them up if necessary. 

    7. Refresh your four-wheel drive knowledge

    If you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive and haven't used it in a while, make sure the four-wheel drive system is working correctly and that all the drivers in your household know how to use it.   

    8. Give your fuel a boost

    If your truck runs on diesel, you should know diesel fuel holds paraffin, which can gel as it cools. Understandably, this can cause problems in extreme cold weather, so consider anti-gel fuel additives to keep your engine running smoothly this winter.  A can of a good starting fluid is also something that can help when the temps are dipping low.

    9. Protect the floor

    When you are in and out of your vehicle in bad weather, the snow and mud will end up on your vehicle floor. Replace carpet floor mats with rubber car mats that have deep grooves to hold the moisture and make it easy to dump out the melted snow or rinse off the mud.

    10. Pack an emergency kit

    Put together an emergency kit including: blankets, flares, flashlights, non-perishable food, boots, a radio, jumper cables, a tow rope, window brushes and scrapers, a can of de-icer  for windshield and door locks, a short shovel, a bag of sand or salt, a spare tire and the tools to install it. 


    More car maintenance 

    Make sure you're prepared for roadside emergencies with our guide to building an emergency roadside kit.
    Keep your car running like it came off the lot with regular oil changes. Learn how to change your car oil at home with this guide.