Protecting your car from the elements can be challenging, especially as temperatures plunge in North Carolina.
As fall sets in, morning temperatures have dipped below freezing across the state, and afternoon temperatures won’t be much warmer in the coming days, according to the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service.
Without proper vehicle maintenance, low temperatures can lead to underinflated tires, faulty car batteries and defective engines, according to Car and Driver, an automotive enthusiast publication.
Fortunately, there are quick and easy ways you can prepare your vehicle for frigid temperatures and avoid repairs that could cost you thousands of dollars.
Here are five things you can do to keep your vehicles free from cold weather wear and tear right now:
1. Wash your car
Rain, snow and road salt can damage the paint on your car, so it’s important to wash it regularly during the winter months, according to CarMax.
Automatic car washes can remove the grime from your car, or you can choose to wash it yourself. When you wash your car, CarMax recommends removing haze from your headlights to keep them shining bright.
2. Check your cabin air filter
Changing your car’s cabin air filter can increase its performance during the winter months.
A dirty cabin air filter can reduce the quality of your HVAC system and slow down window defogging, according to CarMax. It can also produce a musty odor inside your car.
3. Check your tire pressure
Cold weather can shrink the volume of air in your tires, which can lead to low tire pressure, according to HowStuffWorks.
Though it may be tempting to ignore, low tire pressure can hurt your car’s fuel economy, make your vehicle tougher to handle, and lead to blowouts — especially if you travel at high speeds, according to Car and Driver.
If your tire pressure warning light comes on, you should check your tires using a tire pressure gauge.
If your air pressure is low, you should find a nearby gas station or service station to inflate your tires.
4. Check the battery
Batteries perform best in hot weather, and they have to work even harder to help start your car when temperatures drop, according to CarMax.
If the connections on your battery look corroded, or if your car is having electrical problems, it may be time to replace it.
Extra tip: Changing the oil in your car can also help the engine run more efficiently in cold weather, according to Kelley Blue Book.
5. Top off your antifreeze
Antifreeze lowers the temperature at which the water in your engine can freeze, CarMax says.
A good ratio to use when topping off your antifreeze to prepare for cold weather is one part water and one part undiluted antifreeze.