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Cold Weather Car Prep 101

It won’t be long before nighttime temps dip below freezing and daytime temperatures just don’t get the chill out like they used to. With winter on the way, now is the time to prepare your car for cold weather to prevent safety and maintenance issues. At ABC Paint & Body, we think the most important preparations you need to make are for:

Engine Performance

Winter is no time to get stranded, so make sure you’ve made the fluid adjustments that will best ensure your vehicle starts up when you need it.

    Because engine freezing is just as much a concern as overheating, you need to change your coolant mix to include antifreeze. There are kits available at any auto parts store that can check the antifreeze concentration in your coolant.

    Because colder ambient temperatures keep fluids from thinning, you will likely need an oil with a lower winter viscosity, like 5W/30 instead of 10W/30.


The same windshield wiper fluid you use spring through fall is likely not the best choice for winter driving because it quickly ices up on a cold windshield. Switch to a formula made for cold weather that has a lower freezing temperature and effectively helps break up frost and ice. And, always make sure your reservoir is full. Nothing diminishes visibility like a buildup of dirty slush tire-spray from large trucks.


To be able to effectively stop on wet, snowy, icy and slushy roadways, your tires have to have adequate tread and depth. Ideally, you should change to winter tires, which are designed to provide the same amount of “grip” on the road even in cold temperatures. If winter tires are not in the budget (or useful for such a limited time as to make them not cost-effective), make sure you have adequate tread on your all-season tires.

Replace bald tires and tires that have uneven wear or bulging as these are signs of weak tire walls that increase chances of a blowout.

Driver and Passenger Safety

Your preparations may not be able to prevent every type of car problem, like another driver who collides into your vehicle or unexpected road closures. But you can still prepare for these types of events so that you and your passengers can be as safe and comfortable as possible.

Driver and passenger preparations require creating a kit of just-in-case items, such as:

  • Blankets
  • Extra change of warm clothes
  • Extra gloves
  • Snacks (foods with quality protein and carbs, like trail mix or meal replacement bars, not junk food)
  • Road flares
  • Flashlight
  • Sand or kitty litter for traction
  • Small shovel
  • Radio
  • Extra charged cell phone battery

These items are in addition to emergency gear you should have throughout the year, like jumper cables, a spare tire and bottle jack.

If you have any concerns about your vehicle’s readiness for winter, bring your car or truck to ABC Paint & Body. Our technicians can perform a thorough inspection and provide maintenance service to ensure your car is ready for the cold temperatures to come.