by Justin Gray
"Winterizing your vehicle" is about two things: preparing your powersports vehicle for storage and regarding your safety while driving in snow or less-than-ideal road conditions. These are mostly easy "DIY" steps that you can do yourself!
Vehicle preparation for road-use
Tires keep your vehicle planted to the ground. If they're bald or worn, then traction is even harder to come by - and very dangerous to drive on. Make sure that your tires are properly inflated and in good condition; if they're not up to standards, then consider replacing them since your life counts on it. Consider snow tires if you live in an area that is covered in snow all winter long.
Drivetrain - is what keeps the wheels turning. If you drive a 4WD (4-Wheel Drive) vehicle, you should have the 4WD system serviced to ensure it is functioning properly. While you're there, take a look at the brake pads and replace them if worn.
Batteries get a beat-down from cold temperatures. Even a fully-charged battery only outputs half of its capacity when it is extremely cold outside (5°F)! Even worse, the engine requires more current from the battery to get started in cold weather; your vehicle is at an extreme disadvantage in cold climates!
We recommend keeping the battery charged and maintained with a Battery Charger like our Intelligent battery Charger Series. These chargers can help repair damaged batteries through a reconditioning mode, and feature a "Winter mode" that allows charging in cold temperatures!
Windshield wipers clear water, mud, and snow from obstructing your vision while driving and should be replaced every year. While you're at it, check the windshield washer fluid level and top off as needed.
Engine - is the heart of your vehicle, make sure that your oil is fresh, is the right viscosity for the temperature (refer to your manual), and that it is at the correct level. Be sure the coolant is topped off too (check coolant levels when the engine is cold only!). When is the last time the belt(s) and hoses were replaced? I would change them sooner than later. Lastly, take a look underneath the car to make sure there are no leaks.
Exterior of the vehicle is subjective in importance, but if you care about the paint and finish of your vehicle, you should wash and wax your car regularly to help protect it from salt and other debris that causes rust, corrosion, and pitting of your vehicle's parts.
Winter Kit - should be kept in your car for daily use. This kit should include simple items such as:
- Windshield ice scraper
- Rags/ Shop Towel
- Glass Cleaner
- Emergency Kit (see below)
- Folding Shovel
- Snow Brush
- Standard Blanket
- Spare Jacket
- Hand Warmers
Emergency Kit - is the item you'll need in case of a breakdown or an accident. Make sure that you check this regularly to replace batteries or expired goods. This kit should include (at the very minimum):
- 3 Road Flares
- Fire Extinguisher
- Compact Air Compressor
- First Aid Kit
- Non-perishable Food & Water
- Folding Shovel
- Standard Hand Tool Kit
- Paper & Pencil
- Emergency Blanket
- Tire Jack & Lug nut tool
- Tow Strap
Vehicle Preparation for Storage
Vehicles going into storage require a lot less care than those staying on the road. Here are a few simple steps to take:
Tires should be filled and, if possible, the vehicle should be jacked up off of the ground to prevent flat spots from forming on the tires. Lifting the vehicle off the ground will also help to stop animals from climbing inside!
Fuel Stabilizer should be added to the fuel tank to ensure the fuel doesn't separate or gum up the fuel system. A good choice would be from a reputable company like Sta-bil. Fuel stabilizer should first be added to the tank and then let the engine run to ensure it is throughout the entire fuel system. A full tank of fuel will stop rust from forming and keep the seals from drying out.
If storing outside, be sure to wash the vehicle before storage and then cover it up to protect it from the elements. Place desiccant dryers inside of the vehicle to prevent moisture build-up and cover the intake/exhaust ports to stop small critters from crawling inside and making a new home.
Batteries die when sitting without being used; keep it on a charger to stop it from being a paperweight when spring rolls around. Our Intelligent Battery Charger can charge in cold climates (Winter Mode)!
Did I forget anything? Let me know by leaving a comment below!