Home > Ask Gary > How do I prepare my vehicle for the winter season?

How do I prepare my vehicle for the winter season?

toyota-prius-on-snow-01That’s a great question! With the temperatures dropping to below freezing this past week, the Jaffarian Service Departments had customer inquiries about their tire pressure indicator light coming on. If that light comes on, it is likely due to the fluctuation in temperatures this time of year and in the spring. The indicator symbol looks like an exclamation point between parentheses or the letters TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system), it means your tire pressure is way too low. Like other gases, air contracts as it gets colder — and that means there’s less of it in your tires. Stop by and we can check your tire pressure for you and get you on your way!

Tire pressure (per square inch) drops between one and two pounds for every 10-degree decrease in temperature, and that can make a big difference. When the temperature is below freezing, your tires could be 5 to 10 pounds per square inch lower than they were in spring temperatures.

So even if you filled up to a comfortable PSI of 32 in the summer, your tires could have dropped as much as 25 percent in winter— which in most cars is enough to trigger a warning. So just put some more air in your tires, or stop by our Toyota Service or Volvo Service Department and we will help you fill those tires to their proper level.

We also recommend the following:

• While having your tire pressure checked, check for tread depth or uneven wear. If you’re going to buy new tires, this is the time of the year when you want the best tires, don’t wait until spring. (Next week I’ll discuss the need for snow tires vs. all-season tires.)

• Inspect all bulbs and lights and replace any that may be out. Clean the lens.Volvoxc90_winter_rear

• Check your exhaust system for any possible leaks and look for any holes in the floor boards or trunk. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.

• Replace worn wiper blades and you may want to consider the heavy duty winter blades. Generally blades should be changed twice a year, but most people use the same blades for a couple of years. This can affect your visibility in a snow storm.

• Use cold-weather windshield washer and always carry an ice scraper and snow bush in addition to an extra gallon of windshield washer. Always nice to carry water and a blanket in case of an emergency. Browse our parts and accessories areas while you bring in your vehicle to get windshield washer fluid and a good, solid snow brush, which also make great stocking stuffers!

• Clean any corrosion from the battery and cables.

• Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. This should be done at least every two years.

• Have your battery checked to see if it’s strong enough to make through the winter. Many Volvo owners report having the same battery for eight years, however, when your vehicle is more than four years old, have it tested, as you don’t want to be stuck in cold temperatures with a dead battery. The average battery life is four to five years. Both extremely cold and hot weather are hard on the battery, therefore, you may want to carry battery cables in the trunk. (Remember that if your battery needs replacing, you want to “Keep your Toyota a Toyota” and “Keep your Volvo a Volvo” by buying the correct battery from the manufacturer and having installed properly by a certified technician, as recommended by both Volvo and Toyota.)

• Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil means trouble in winter. Be sure to use the recommended grade of oil and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

• If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done as soon as possible as winter only magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.

• Have the brakes checked since that is the vehicle’s most important safety item, especially in winter on icy or snow-covered roads.

Be sure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape for the cold winter ahead. If you’d like to bring it in to Jaffarian, feel free to call for an appointment for Toyota Service at 888-355-1041 or Volvo Service at 888-658-9023; or log-in here and book an appointment anytime online.

Stay warm and drive safely!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary
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