Since the sun has retreated to northern latitudes, it’s time to make sure your car is ready for a few months of colder temperatures. Months of deferred maintenance on your beater could leave you stranded, or endanger the lives of other motorists. So, let’s look at the most important factors that are made worse by winter weather. It doesn’t matter if your beater is faster than most street cars, the same rules apply to Edsels and Enzos.
Your drag radials probably offer tremendous grip on the track and street, but the fun is over when you’re sliding on sleet. Snow tires are a relatively cheap expenditure, so get a spare set of wheels and put your summer rubber into hibernation, your car or SUV will thank you. Now would be a good time to relax your alignment specs, as camber and toe play a big part in cold weather cornering.
The same system used to cool your engine is also responsible for heating the cockpit. Your heater core has been sitting idle all summer, now it wants to release its slime back into circulation. Flush your old fluid and buy a new radiator cap and thermostat. If you have a triple core racing radiator with dual fans, you might not reach proper operating temperature on shorter drives. Running too cold allows condensation to build up in the oil since it never reaches 212 degrees. This allows the oil to promote rust inside the crankcase. Proper coolant is especially important for Pre-1997 Porsche 911 models (ha…ha…ha).
Batteries don’t like shivering. Not only are colder engines harder to start, your starter has less juice to play with once the temperature drops. If you have a traditional lead-acid unit, make sure you top off the cells with distilled water and have your alternator load tested to ensure proper charging. Battery cables and terminals are prone to corrosion, but a bath in Coca-Cola and a stiff brush will remove the oxidation.
Cold weather driving is made more difficult if you can’t see what’s around you. Start at the front and upgrade your headlights and/or fogs. A warmer color temperature in the 3-4k range will cut through the snow. Save your blue HIDs for summer cruising. Next up are wiper blades- change them. Then make sure your defroster vents work properly, and your rear window defogger grid is heating the glass.
Because road salt loves to destroy everything we hold dear, you should probably make sure your suspension and chassis are protected. Find a reputable shop that is experienced in undercoating. This is because once rust is allowed to metastasize, your Flinstone floor pans will provoke ridicule from friends and family. And if you think rust is only a Northern concern, the humidity of oceanfront living can be just as damaging to steel and aluminum alike.
As always, we’re not liable for any damages or injuries as a result of following these procedures.