Wasn’t it just summer? Alas, it’s time to prep for cooler weather that, for many, will yield to frosty temps, snow and ice on the roads. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth frost, here are five tips (and estimated costs) to help winterize your whip – as provided by George Mikhael, owner of Alewife Automotive in Medford, Massachusetts.
1. Focus on the undercarriage
“Get the undercarriage oiled and the joints underneath sprayed down to protect from hardened grease in low temps, as well as keeping rust at bay. Super important and probably one of the most biggest preventative maintenance items on this list. Proper protection prevents frame rot, brake & fuel lines from rusting and going bad, and obviously helps keep the suspension tight!”
Estimated cost: $65-$95. (Some shops, including Alewife, don’t charge for it.)
2. Time to re-tire
Check your tire’s tread life, alignment, and opt for a tire rotation. Whether it’s all- or two-wheel drive, having good tires that are aligned and in the right placement will make all the difference on a slushy, snowy night.
Estimated cost: Rotation is typically free with other services, and an alignment will run $50-$100 depending where you go.
3. Inspect belts, seals and fluids
“Getting the belts, hoses and any other fluid components checked is huge. Like your dear Aunt Ruthy, rubbers and plastics don’t like the cold weather! Always good to get things pressure tested and make sure there are no leaks, and to ensure engine coolant and oil are up-to-date before getting into the extreme cold.
Estimated cost: Check-ups can be $0-60; replacement costs vary.
4. Replace a bad or dying battery
“EV owners, take note! A battery health check is definitely one of the more important ones. Batteries typically completely die in cold weather when they’re not in good shape. Testing at least illuminates the risk of waking up to a dead battery on a cold or snowy morning. Have the terminals cleaned off from any acid corrosion; hybrid and electric vehicles should have the electrical harnesses sprayed with electrical cleaner and conditioning oil. And obviously, 12V batteries should be replaced if voltage tests don’t meet requirements.”
Estimated cost: $50-100 for service; battery costs vary.
5. Do a whole system health check
“I always tell people to check the brakes, suspension, lights & fluids before the two extreme seasons! Usually the extreme hot and the extreme cold is when things typically break if they are about to. Full vehicle check ups honestly can save you a lot of time and money as opposed to breaking down and having to spend more. The winter is definitely brutal for cars and machines. I usually just go through every car that comes in here before the winter and do a full health check and it doesn’t hurt to add some dry gas and fuel injection cleaner to make sure a fuel lines don’t freeze.”
Estimated cost: $80
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