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10 Tips How to Winterize a Car

Published Fri January 19, 2018

Car frozen over


CHARLOTTE (January 19, 2018) – With the thermometer dropping to record lows across the country, America’s drivers are finding that extreme cold temperatures are causing issues with their automobiles. From low tire inflation to dead batteries to engine issues to frozen fuel lines, winter weather can create woes on the road.

To help prevent these issues, Meineke Car Care Centers, which services nearly three million vehicles per year with tune-ups, oil changes, brakes, tires, exhaust systems and other repairs, offers 10 tips for cold weather car maintenance.


1. Check Your Battery

Rob Fillman, vice president of Operations for Meineke Car Care Centers, says vehicle batteries lose 33 percent of their charge when the temperature dips below freezing and more than 50 percent of the charge when the temperature falls below zero. Poor battery maintenance and the battery age can also reduce battery charging ability. If you’re experiencing slow cranks or click when starting your car, it’s time to get your battery checked. And if your battery is over three years old, it’s time to have it replaced.


2. Get a Grip


good vs bad tire


It’s important to check your tire treads to make sure they can handle the winter roads. If you insert a penny in the tread, you shouldn’t see Lincoln’s head. If you do, it’s time for new tires. Also check inflation — for every 10 degrees the temperature drops, your tires can lose a pound of pressure. Fillman notes that this can cause premature wear on your tires and decrease your gas mileage. Meineke offers free tire pressure checks with every oil change package purchase to make air pressure adjustments easy!


3. Update Your Oil


Your motor oil needs to prepare for winter. Typical 20W-XX oil can gain viscosity at 0 degrees. At the low-temperature end, oil has to be resistant to thickening so that it flows more easily to all the moving parts in your engine. Also, if the oil is too thick in can cause slow cranking and possible damage for the oil pump, and can make it harder to start the engine, which reduces fuel economy. A 5W oil is typically what’s recommended for winter use. However, synthetic oils can be formulated to flow even more easily when cold, so they are able to pass tests that meet the 0W rating. Learn more and check out the list of Meineke oil change services.


4. Winterize Your Fluids


Many fluids can contain water, so Fillman advises you’ll need to switch them for cold weather. Windshield washer fluid – critical for removing road salt and sludge – comes in formulations for cold weather. Check the label to make sure it is designed for the climate your vehicle lives in. Sometimes the label may read all-season or winter, but should also show the lowest temperature the particular fluid can perform to, such as -40 or -45 C. And, never fill the washer fluid tank using plain water. When the weather gets cold enough, regular H20 will turn into a giant frozen block potentially creating a safety hazard on the road. Temperature fluctuations occurring in the engine bay can also lead to the water becoming a breeding ground for mold.

Don’t forget the anti-freeze either. Antifreeze/coolant keeps your engine cool in warm weather and keeps it from freezing up in the winter. A 50-50 mix of full strength coolant and water generally protects to around -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you check with the supplier or your owner’s manual for the correct formulation. Additionally, antifreeze is sold in BOTH pre-mix and full strength. Do not add water to pre-mixed antifreeze / coolant, and never run your vehicle on straight water, since it can freeze and potentially cause severe engine damage. Even in warm weather, due to the higher operating temperatures of emission controlled engines, straight water could boil and cause an overheating condition.

Meineke offers free fluid top offs with every oil change package purchase to ensure you’re maintaining proper levels throughout the year.


5. Warm Up Your Ride


Before you take off on a cold day, give your car a few minutes to warm up. This allows fluids to get flowing and cold hoses and belts to thaw out. This will help avoid strain on the engine and allow the car to run more efficiently.


6. Don’t Freeze Your Fuel Line


When outdoor temperatures dip below freezing levels and water vapor gets into your car’s fuel lines, your fuel lines can easily freeze. Fixing a frozen line is typically inexpensive, but it can be frustrating to deal with. Prevent your fuel lines from freezing by adding a fuel additive into the system. In addition, keep your fuel tank at its maximum capacity to decrease moisture in your system. The less moisture in the system, the less chance your fuel lines will freeze.


7. Wipe Away Winter


Fillman suggests that before ice and snow hit, update your wiper blades to ensure they can efficiently remove precipitation from the windshield. When parking outside in the snow, leave your wipers in the raised position so they don’t freeze to the windshield.


8. Light the Way


Falling snow limits visibility, so ensure your headlights, taillights and turn signals are all operating. Consider switching to a new high-output headlamp for a brighter profile on the road. If plastic headlights are hazed and pitted, have them restored before winter weather arrives to improve safety.


9. Pack a Snow-megedon Kit


If you find yourself stranded on the road during a storm, an emergency kit can save the day. You’ll need a cell phone charger, water, snack bars, a blanket, matches, flares, folding shovel, and two two-by-fours to place under the wheels for traction, snow brush and ice scraper.


10. Find a Trusted Total Car Care Partner


The best way to avoid overall vehicle failure is to have a professional car care partner you trust to maintain your vehicle. Meineke offers free towing for Meineke rewards members who are stranded due to mechanical issues to any Meineke location within 10 miles. Meineke will diagnose and treat a variety of vehicle problems ranging from battery failure to more complex issues. The certified technicians at Meineke’s more than 900 total car care centers are always ready to help. Visit to schedule your appointment today.


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About Meineke


Meineke Car Care Centers, LLC., is a division of Driven Brands, Inc., the leading automotive aftermarket franchisor in the world. Founded in 1972, Meineke has more than 930 centers that service approximately 3 million cars a year. Over the years, Meineke has expanded its product offerings to better meet the demands of its customers and a changing marketplace. Meineke continues to be ranked as one of the best franchise opportunities in the country and has recently won top franchise rankings from Forbes, Franchise Times and Entrepreneur Magazine. For more information, please visit