When the cold months arrive, your car performance seems to go on vacation. Starting is harder, performance is sluggish, and drivability is more difficult when the weather hovers at or below freezing.
2014 is turning out as an exceptionally cold year with many areas of the United States staying below freezing for extended periods.
There are steps you can take before and during winter’s cold weather to get better car starting, better car performance, and better drivability.
How to Improve Winter Car Performance
There are things you can do to winterize your car so it performs at its best. These things include:
Tune-Up Your Car
If you are a weekend mechanic tune your car before the cold weather starts. Those who are not mechanical, have your car tuned by a competent mechanic. A good choice is an ASE certified mechanic. Make sure to change all filters and that the coolant concentration in your radiator is in a 50/50 ratio of water and antifreeze.
Battery and Fluid Levels
Check your battery for corrosion on the terminal connections and posts. If any exists, clean them off and tighten them again.
Change your windshield wiper blades to ones clad with rubber to scrape ice from the windshield in the winter. Make sure you have refilled your windshield washer reservoir with wiper solvent and keep plenty on hand – it is amazing how quickly you use it!
Use of Snow Tires
Make sure you have snow tires on your car for improved drivability during the winter and its snow filled and icy roads.
Additives and Cleaners Help in Cold Weather
Cold weather makes rough idling worse. Use a high-quality throttle plate and carb cleaner. A short spray on the throttle plate cleans, lubricates, and increases engine performance.
E10 gasoline can harm your fuel system and engine.
- Use a high-quality non-alcohol containing fuel treatment to counter the dangers associated with ethanol fuel. Use a high-quality fuel system cleaner by adding a can to a tank of gas. It cleans fuel injectors, intake valves, and combustion chambers. When these are clean, your car performs better. Retreat as needed (every 3,000 miles).
- Use a spray lubricant on the trunk, hood, and door hinges, lock and other moving parts.
Older transmissions that work well benefit from using a transmission fluid conditioner. But, if you own a late-model car that uses synthetic transmission fluid, you do not need to add a conditioner.
The need to “warm up” your car for several minutes before driving in cold weather is a myth. It is best to start your, wait just long enough to adjust your mirrors, seatbelt, and then drive.
Today’s cars warm up sooner if they you drive them and not leave them idling. However, wait a couple of miles before allowing your car engine to rev high.
This post was published on February 14, 2014 and was updated on April 15, 2021.