A Car Winterization Guide for Seattle Drivers – Part 1

Category: Driving. Written by Grant 

Don’t look now, because signs of Old Man Winter are creeping upon us again. With defrosters hard at work in the morning, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be reaching for the gloves and ice scraper as well for that morning commute.

To protect your car, we turned to a few local auto experts. At a local Shucks Auto, the sales clerk, Jon, indicates that “wind shield wipers, wiper fluids, car batteries and de-icers” all start to pick up this time of year.

On windshield wipers, Jon notes that “the sun and icy winter tends to crack the rubber blades,” so it’s important to regularly change wipers. Keeping your visibility intact, especially during the wet and dark winter months is a necessity for safe driving. Most auto stores have a guide on which blade to buy or you can simply ask for new blades at your next oil change. Tip: On especially cold days, pull your wipers up, as you would when washing your car, so they don’t freeze and stick to the window in the morning.

Batteries commonly faily during the winter, which many know firsthand, can lead to the embarassing scenario of begging for help and fumbling with jumper cables. While most modern cars have maintenance free batteries, it’s “still a good idea to get them checked now rather than finding out the hard way”, says Jon. Places like Shucks, Les Schwab and Sears all offer free battery checks.

“Antifreeze is important too,” Jon adds, noting that keeping your coolant topped helps enture your engine run at a consistent temperate. Cooling systems are under more stress during extreme hot and cold weather and are the most common cause of engine failure.

One thing Jon doesn’t mention are lights, which are often overlooked by drivers due to the difficulty in spotting a burned out bulb. “I never even realized my headlight was out,” says David, a Redmond resident, who was pulled over twice in one day due to a busted headlamp. Checking your car lights is as simple as turning them on and walking around your car and is an important safety precaution. Studies have shown that cars with daytime running lights are in fewer accidents, as lights help other drivers with identification. Thus, keeping your lights functioning in the winter is paramount to reducing your risk.

Apart from preventative maintenance, we talked to Ben Wolters at Auto Seattle, whose company specializes in custom accessories for new cars, for advice on keeping your car clean. “Floor liners, floor mats and garage liners,” says Wolters. He notes that a popular seller with Seattle buyers are Husky floormats, which are durable for our wet weather. For those who want to protect their investments, Wolters recommends hood deflectors, as the can “keep any debris off the car, such as rocks and salt.”
With the economy down and customers getting a bit more tight on their wallets, stores like Auto Seattle have felt the pinch as well. “But,” Wolters adds, protective accessories makes a lot of sense “for those who want to take care of their thirty, fourty or fifty thousand dollar investment.”

Next in Part 2, Good Tires and Managing Your Driveway

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