Fighting the cold with careful preparation
It is common knowledge that the winter months in Wisconsin are among some of the most brutal in the United States. Being seasoned vets (whether we take pride in that or not) has forced us to gain knowledge in the area of preparation for the continuous barrage of bone-chilling temperatures. We possess the special ability to correctly select the articles of clothing that will not only keep us warm but also be functional. We know what specific purpose each of these articles excels at and what it will be like in the elements without them. This is the approach you should take to preparing your car for the winter. You should ask yourself, “What scenarios could result from my lack of attention towards a specific area of my car?” and then determine which of these areas you need to address.
Cold Weather = Harder Starts
While cars are built to be operated in all climates; there are some aspects about your car that will not deal with the cold as well as others. Your engine for example, experiences harder from the cold temperatures which cause the oil to become thicker and harder for the engine to pass through its circuits. Have you ever shopped for oil? If so, you’ve noticed the specific set of numbers and letters on the front, such as 10W-30. This represents the oils viscosity, or thickness when operating in the winter and the summer months. The lower the number, the thinner the oil will be during operating temperatures. Some people recommend changing your oil to a lower number during the winter to ease the starting process for your vehicle. While this will increase your vehicles ability to start in cold temperatures, we recommend sticking to the specified oil viscosity that your vehicles manufacturer has designated.
Batteries lose their punch when the temperatures drop. You’ve probably noticed how your cell phone battery depletes faster when it is exposed to the cold, the same happens with your vehicles battery. If you’re in the market for a new batter before winter, be sure to find one that has a high cold cranking amp value (CCA) as this is the batteries power output during lower temperature conditions. Anything above 700 should do the trick. It is a good idea to perform an inspection of the battery, its terminals (the metal posts that the cables connect to), and the cables for any corrosion that can become an inhibitor of the batteries power output. If you happen to find corrosion, be sure to safely disconnect the battery before you attempt to clean it. Once you have the battery safely disconnected, using a mixture of water and baking soda, pour a light amount of the mixture over the corroded areas, let it soak for a few minutes, then scrub off with an abrasive cloth or sponge. Be sure to dry the battery and cleaned areas completely before reconnecting it.
If you maintain these two vital aspects of your vehicle it should start every time during the winter months, whether you want it to or not. Remember, its winter and we’re in Wisconsin; be safe, be smart, and be prepared.