November 16, 2012
Oil doesn’t wear out, but it does become contaminated, and the performance additives are used up in service. So change your oil and filter in time for winter and check the engine’s dipstick yourself each time you stop for gas if you use self-service stations. Even engines that are in good shape can consume some oil between changes.
Using proper oil can mean longer engine life and improve fuel efficiency. It’s important to match the oil’s viscosity, or thickness, to the temperatures at which the engine is likely to operate. In winter, an engine is colder at start-up than in summer, so it might be advisable to use a multi-grade, low-viscosity oil such as 5W-30. Being thinner than, say, 10W-30, it flows easily between moving parts when cold, but will remain thick enough to adhere to internal surfaces when the engine is completely warmed up. Even though some vehicles now recommend 5W-30 and even 5W-20 for year-round use, there are still benefits to entering harsh winter driving conditions with fresh oil from a pre-winter oil change.
In addition, high-quality oils contain special additives to help ensure easy starting and full engine protection at all speeds. Refer to your owner’s manual for more complete information.
Never continue to drive if the oil-pressure light comes on. You’ll risk engine damage. Stop, turn off the engine immediately and investigate. You may be very low on oil. For emergencies, take along an extra container of oil.
Last but not least, if you’re planning on changing your own oil, remember to always properly dispose of used oil, filters, and plastic containers by recycling all contaminated materials at your nearest local collection point.
Wipers and washer fluid
Typically, there is reduced visibility in winter due to reduced daylight, snow and ice. In most parts of Canada, wiper blades last one year before needing replacement, and sooner if damaged. If you live where there is lots of ice and snow during the winter you should consider investing in wipers made specifically for winter.
During the winter months it is best to use windshield washer fluid made for colder temperatures to avoid further reduction in visibility. Also check your reservoir on a regular basis before heading out.
The ideal mixture of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your vehicle’s radiator in winter is 60:40. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot- and cold-weather performance can be compromised. Pure Anti-freeze actually has a warmer freeze point, do not use more that 66:33 anti-freeze:water.
You can check the composition of a radiator’s mixture by using an antifreeze tester. These can be found at all auto parts stores, and they are inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture is off, adjust it by adding either coolant or water. It is preferable to use de-ionized or de-mineralized water.