Ask the Patch Pro: How to Winterize Your Car

Let one of our Patch Pros answer your questions about winter home maintenance.

As the days grow shorter and the thermometer continues its steady, downward slide, many of us are preparing as best we can for the long dark months ahead.

But when it comes to winterizing your car, do you know what necessary steps should be taken or the best methods?

Here to help with our preparations are three "Patch Pros"—local car repair and maintainence specialists that have agreed to answer your questions and address your concerns regarding car winterization in the comments section below.

Our experts are:

  • Derrick Schmalenberg, of Richfield Bloomington Honda's service department.
  • Tina Liljedahl, marketing director of Baber Auto Repair in Roseville.
  • Rob Rich, owner of Precision Auto Repair in Albertville.

Our panel of three experts will regularly check the comments below and try to answer your questions for this "Ask a Patch Pro" feature beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. Thanks to all our Patch pros and questioners for participating!

Baber Auto Repair November 09, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Tom, Welcome to Minnesota! Much like "SomeGuy" said, many cars are already equipped with the ability to plug-in, so have a peek under the hood and see if you see a cord. If not, no fret - you will likely be fine, and so will your oil. There are a few recommendations I would make coming from a warmer climate that some people do not consider. Check your windsheild wiper fluid. Sometimes people use water or fluid dilluted with water in southern states. This will freeze and you will need to replace it. Also check the strength of your coolant/ant-freeze. We recommend a coolant strength of at least -30 for Minnesota winters. This is something a mechanic can test for you. Warmer states also can have an impact on battery life, so have your battery tested. Our shop offers a winterization inspection where we check these things plus hoses, belts, spark plugs, brakes, tires, and other areas of importance during winter. I recommend having a shop give your vehicle an overall winter inspection, especially since this will be its first winter. Stay warm! Carry a blanket and gloves in your trunk for emergencies! - Tina Liljedahl Baber Auto Repair
Carbon Bigfuut November 09, 2012 at 05:31 PM
You can check the recommended oil weight for your car on the www.amsoil.com site. Whether or not you buy their oil, the spec is the same. There is no reason to use a different oil in the winter vs. the summer. Current oil is create to cover a wide range of temperatures, and the operating temperature or your engine is the same in the winter as the summer.
Carbon Bigfuut November 09, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Put 3-4 mothballs inside the cabin - inside a plastic or cardboard container, so the mothballs don't directly contact the carpet or upholstery. You will want to air out the car in the spring, but it won't take long (I do this each year and my spouse never complains). Put Comet or Ajax on the floor in a circle around each tire. The mice won't cross the chlorine in the cleanser to get into the car.
Adam Wagner November 12, 2012 at 07:56 AM
I have a 97 sunfire gt 2.4l and when ever i am stop at a street light my car ideles rough how can I fix that or am i stuck with this problem? Should I put new spark plugs in?
Carbon Bigfuut November 14, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Depending on when the spark plugs were last changed, this may be a good idea. You may also need your fuel injectors cleaned. There is a system that injects cleaner directly into the fuel lines going to the injectors and gives them a thorough cleaning; much better than pouring something into your gas tank. You'll need to consult an auto repair shop for this service.


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