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Important Items To Check On Your Personal Or Fleet Vehicles Before Winter

Whether it’s your personal, commercial, or fleet vehicle, it’s important to proactively check, service, repair, and perform key maintenance items to ensure it’s prepared to function safely and properly in winter. Without the right weatherization preparation, the frigid winter weather can have an adverse effect on any automobile. Performing timely maintenance checks at your local auto repair shop can keep running safe your car or truck running at optimal efficiency through freezing rains, mountains of snow and icy roads.

Basic Maintenance Services

As winter approaches and before the temperature begins to plummet, it’s essential to have proper basic maintenance services performed on any vehicles you own if you want to ensure they will be able to perform safely and properly. Performing the following winter maintenance checks will help ensure the vehicles will be able to get the job done and take you to any destination while keeping you safe and sound this winter. Neglecting your vehicle’s basic maintenance can leave you stuck on the side of the road instead of being able to spread holiday cheer.

Winter Vehicle Maintenance Service You Should Perform

Long before your vehicles have to face winter’s frigid temperatures and harsh weather conditions, these are a number of maintenance services that could or should be performed to avoid expensive break downs, emergency repairs, and costly downtime in winter.

1. Brakes

To drive safely in winter, it’s essential to make sure the vehicle’s the braking system is in good working order. That means checking, repairing, and replacing, worn or damaged brake pads and brake shoes, especially if there is a squealing sound or grinding feeling when you step on the brakes. Proper maintenance is essential to remove air, moisture, and the contaminants and prevent them from entering the brake system. Excess air and water can cause brake lines to freeze and not function properly when the temperature drops. That can be disastrous on slippery winter roads. Effective braking is a top priority for vehicles in winter.

Service The Brakes
The brake lines, fluid housings, and cylinders should be inspected for wear and damage. Cold weather can make those problems worse. Before the temperature dips below freezing, replace the worn discs and pads in your vehicles. Plus, check and fill the brake fluid reservoir to the proper levels.

2. Tires

Good tires help to ensure your vehicle has adequate traction when driving in cold rain, snow, and on icy roads. Even if an all-weather tire is in good shape, consider outfitting any vehicle you and your workers drive with winter tires. They provide better grip when driving on cold, icy, road conditions. Make sure each tire has enough tread depth and are always properly inflated. An underinflated tire wears faster, has adverse effects on handling and are a leading reason for tire failure. Don’t over-inflate the tire either. That increases tread separation risk and makes curbing, potholes and road debris more easily damage the tire.

Prevent Or Minimizing Sliding
Proper tire tread traction helps prevent or minimize sliding on wet, slick, icy roads. Having thicker tire tread also improves the effectiveness of tire chains, even when cold temperatures make tire pressure drop. The tire is your vehicle’s only point of contact with the road. A properly inflated tire flexes when it meets the road surface and that helps it maintain maximum contact with the road. Performing visual inspections and measuring the tread valley in each tire is a simple way to know if they need replacing.

3. Heater

Making sure the heating system in your vehicles is functioning properly as winter draws near is very important. Ensuring the driver is warm and comfortable helps to make sure they can focus on the road and not be distracted by cold fingers or toes. Checking the heater and window defroster and making sure to service them are vital maintenance acts that enhance safe operation of personal, commercial, and fleet vehicles. Be sure to test all the heater vents and adjustments and make sure they will properly defrost all the windows and mirrors quickly when low temperature make them freeze, or accumulate condensation. Having frost covered windows and mirrors are a major safety hazards. Good heaters and defrosters prevent it.

4. Steering

Precise steering is very important in winter. Check all steering system components thoroughly to prepare for winter driving. Look for signs the vehicle’s power-steering system needs servicing. They include changes in the color of or bubbles in the power-steering fluid, strange whining or squealing noises, leaking power-steering fluid or difficulty turning. These are common power-steering system symptoms when the weather gets cold and can indicate a variety of problems that can negatively impact the ability to properly and safely steer the vehicle.

Noises While Turning
If your vehicle makes noises when turning, it can be an indication of problems with the power-steering belt, pulley or pump. Cold weather makes rubber belts less pliable and stiffer belts can loose grip and slip a little over the pulley. Check the belt. If it’s stiff or cracked replace it with a more pliable new one. Replacing old, very viscous power-steering fluid that is making the power-steering pump squeal because it’s working too hard to move old, dirty, gummed up power-steering fluid makes driving your vehicle a lot easier and safer. Making sure your wheels are properly realigned also helps to improve a vehicle’s handling on winter roads ahead.

5. Oil Change

An oil change in preparation for winter not only means putting in clean oil and a new oil filter, it may also be advisable to put in less viscous oil that will keep engines better lubricated in low temperatures. When oil is too viscous, cold weather can make it more difficult for it to move freely through the engine and lubricate all the parts. Ask the oil change technician if your vehicle can benefit from using a thinner oil or a full synthetic oil in the winter to prevent engine damage and make starting easier in cold weather. If you are changing the oil yourself, check the owner’s manual of your vehicle for the manufacturer’s cold- weather viscosity recommendations.

6. Wipers

Before winter’s snow, hail and freezing rain pour down on your windshield and obscure your ability to see the roadway and the people, vehicles and other things outside of your vehicles, you should inspect the windshield wipers and replace the wiper blades if they are worn or damaged. Replacing windshield wiper blades is fast, easy and does not cost very much. But not having properly working windshield wipers in winter can make it near impossible to drive any type of personal, commercial or fleet vehicle safely. It’s recommended windshield wiper blades be replaced at the beginning of winter each year.

Heavy-Duty Wiper Blades
Many automobile service professionals recommend installing heavy-duty wiper blades on vehicles in winter. Heavy-duty wiper blades are strong enough to clear snow, hail and frost and ice buildup off your windshield to improve the driver’s ability to see what is going on around their vehicle. Plus, they are capable of removing snow, slush, salt and dirt from the road that’s sometimes splashed on a vehicle’s windshield in winter. If the wiper blades leave streaks on the windshield, clean or replace them.

7. Fluids

At the beginning of winter and throughout the season, it’s important to make sure the fluids in the automobiles for which you are responsible are always at the appropriate levels. Check, fill or replace the radiator, engine, transmission, battery, brake, power-steering and windshield washer fluid reservoirs. Keep them all at the levels the manufacturer recommends. This is a very important part of the winterization process for any vehicle. Make sure the coolant and windshield washer fluid have the optimal freeze point for winter weather. Keeping the windshield washer fluid reservoir filled with low temperature or de-icing can help to keep your windshield clean and clear and improve visibility.

Fuel Recommendations
If you have diesel powered vehicles, switch to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel designed for cold weather conditions. Keep at least a quarter or a half tank of fuel in your vehicles at all times during the winter to prevent it from freezing. Consider using a fuel additive to help prevent issues with moisture in the fuel tank.

Prepare Your Vehicles For Winter

There are several other maintenance checks and services you should do on your vehicles to prepare them for winter. They include testing and cleaning batteries, battery terminals, and connections. Checking, cleaning and replacing the spark plugs. Perform basic engine inspection and maintenance and run diagnostics. Tune up your transmission. Inspect the belts and hoses for fraying or cracking and carefully check the radiator. Taking these small steps can prepare your personal, commercial or fleet vehicles to run smoothly all winter.
Sauls Autotek Winter Tire Deal

Book An Appointment Today

We are a full service auto care center and can help get your vehicle ready for winter and put up to $200 into your pocket. Just book an appointment, drop off your vehicle, pick it up and enjoy your new tires and the money you saved. Call us today.

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(303) 290-9900
11836 E Pekview Ave.
Centennial, CO 80111
Published by: John Piccone

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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