Tips For
Winter Motoring

Posted October 07 2016
by PenFed Team
Prepare for Winter


Wintertime is no time for a mechanical breakdown. Since wintry weather can pose challenges to your car’s systems, now’s a good time to take advantage of milder weather to ensure your car is in tip-top condition for the cold winter months ahead.

Protect your car and embrace winter prepared with these nine maintenance tips from PenFed.

Pre-winter maintenance

1. Change your engine oil.

Oil gets thicker in cold temperatures, so if the temperature regularly drops below freezing where you live, switch to thinner engine oil. If your oil becomes too thick and goopy, it won’t do a good job of lubricating your car’s engine. Check your owner’s manual for specific oil recommendations.

2. Check coolant levels.

It may seem counterintuitive to be thinking about coolants this time of the year, but your car’s coolant also keeps the engine from freezing up in the winter. Half coolant, half water is the typical mix.

3. Check your tire tread.

If the tread on your tires is getting low (use a tread depth gauge or simply a penny to check tread depth yourself), it’s time for new tires. All-season tires work well in light to moderately snowy conditions, but if you live in an area with heavy wintry weather, seasonal snow tires with nubs that bite into the snow or ice may be the smartest option. Think twice about mixing snow and regular tires, though, because uneven wear and performance can leave your traction dangerously imbalanced.

4. Air up your tires.

Did you know that cold weather can affect your tire pressure? Every 10 degrees Fahrenheit that the temperature outside drops, your car tires lose about one pound per square inch of pressure. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended pressures for your car.

5. Get your brakes inspected. 

Slippery winter conditions will demand precise braking. Have your brakes inspected to make sure they’re ready to keep you safely on the road this winter.

6. Get your belts and hoses inspected. 

Belts and hoses can break or tear more easily in cold temperatures. Have them checked for wear and tear before the weather turns severe.

7. Check your battery and battery cables.

Avoid getting stuck at the store on a snowy day by making sure your battery is in good shape. Check that the cables are firmly attached, and use a stiff wire brush to clean away corrosion on the posts or connections. If your battery isn’t the sealed type, open it up and check the water level inside. If it needs water, refill it with distilled water. If you’ve had your battery for a couple of years, ask your local garage to test its ability to hold a charge.

8. Clear the view out of the car.

Check to make sure your windshield washer fluid contains antifreeze to keep it from freezing, and keep an ice scraper at hand for clearing away snow and ice from your windshield and windows. Replace your windshield wiper blades if they’re worn or torn.

9. Restock your roadside emergency kit.

If you don’t already keep an emergency kit in your trunk, the prospect of being stranded in a winter storm makes putting one together now a smart idea. The typical roadside emergency kit includes: a blanket, extra gloves, an extra set of warm clothes and boots, a plastic jug of water and some food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, paper towels, spare windshield wipers, flares, jumper cables, a basic tool kit, tire chains, a tire gauge, a fully aired spare tire and tire-changing equipment, a small shovel, and a bag of something like sand, salt, or kitty litter to sprinkle on the ground to add traction if you get stuck in snow.

Does your car have the winter blues?

If your autumn inspection has left you with any doubts that your car is not up for another winter of hard driving, then it might be time for a new car. Consider securing your auto financing with PenFed Credit Union. A PenFed new or used auto loan will get you on the road with lower loan rates and an easy online application.

Need help finding a car? Save time and money with the PenFed Car Buying Service. You can search and sort online for the cars and features you’re looking for, quickly and easily—all with the use of your laptop, tablet, or mobile device. Check it out today!

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