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Moving to the Northeast from the Deep South: How do I winterize my car?

Hey, I am moving from New Orleans to Detroit and am wondering if there is anything I need to do to winterize my car… What do all of you recommend? My aunt told me about having to add something to gasoline in the winter up there, have any of you heard about this?

Hmm, well first of all Detroit isn’t in the Northeast, but that’s OK haha. As for winterizing-that’s something you tend to do if you’re car is going to sit for long periods (months) without use. You didn’t mention the type of car, so it’s hard to give you any recommendations otherwise.

Do not know the type of vehicle you speeak of, but the general rules would be:
get radiator checked --to -32 degrees fluid
check battery—old than 3 years put a new one in
get 4 snow tires placed upon their own rims, put them on the vehicle in late Oct early Nov–take off in mid April and put your all season back on
join a motor club
have a cell phone., gps or a local map
[add something to gas–called heet–do not waste your $ on it]

Winterization is a good idea, Detroit can get nasty in winter.

Here’s my recommended list:

  1. Flush the cooling system with hose water (no chemicals) and refill with fresh coolant in the mix specified on the bottle.

  2. be sure the car is up to date on all its scheduled maintenance, and any needed repaurs are done.

2-1/2) get the battery checked and charging system checked. If the battery is weak, replace it.

  1. be sure you have a good set of properly inflated all-season tires or winter tires on all fours…with good tread. Even the best winter tire is no good if the tread is worn off to where the wear bars are obvious. And check the pressure monthly. Tire pressure varies with temperature changes.

  2. drain the windshield washer bottle and refill with “winter mix”. The “summer mix” you use in New Orleans will freeze in the lines. You may have to wait until you get to Detroit to find “winter mix”.

  3. replace the windshield wipers with rubber-booted winter wipers. Metal framed wipers will ice up in bad weather and obliterate your vision. Again, you may have to wait to find them.

  4. fill a few plastic bottles with dry sand and put them in the trunk. That can help if you get stuck on ice.

  5. buy a small plastic shovel and throw that in the trunk. Just in case.

  6. learn to do everything very slowly in bad weather and to leave plenty of space around you.

Sincere best.

Find out when your radiator coolant should be changed out; get it tested to make sure it is -25 degrees F in Oct/Nov timeframe, or change it out so that the new stuff meets this standard. Make sure you have all season tires. Consider changing out battery if it is old, but wait until you get up there–some battery manufacturers have North and South versions. Otherwise, keep up your car’s normal services. While some folks may add gas line antifreeze to their tanks, I am not sure if you need it. As a matter of prevention, I run one bottle through in the fall and just fill up normally thru the winter. Had no gasline freeze ups ever. With most all gasoline having an ethanol blend, the gas line antifreeze issue is fairly moot.

Everyone is offering an extensive list, but we don’t even know if he owns a new car or if it’s a diesel.

Frankly, nothing, except to get a set of FOUR WINTER tyres. Unless you have driving experience on snow and ice, you really should have them. Many folks who live up north don’t bother, but they have experience driving in the winter. Those winger (not all season or snow) tyres will help a lot. Nothing really needed for the car.

Coolant is coolant, you need the same thing south or north since the stuff in needed to keep it from freezing and to keep it from boiling.

Winter mix for the windscreen fluid is wise. Chances are if your battery would still be good down there, it will be good up north.

Good Luck and watch it on those first few snows.

Don’t fear moving to the great white north. Just make sure that you have a 50-50 antifreeze mix and you likely already have that, and a fairly new battery. I have lived in the northern US all of my life and take no special precautions other than what I have stated. There is a difference in battery design for the deep south compared to the far north so if your battery is more than a couple of years old, a new $60 battery might be an easy step to take. I never add anything to the gasoline; it’s adjusted for winter by others.

Winter starting in the bad old days with carburetors was problematic but with fuel injection, winter starting is very easy now. Enjoy your time and relish the lack of bugs in the winter.

With a front driver car, you can run any tires with a decent amount of tread remaining; no special precautions needed here either.

Actually, a container of kitty litter is more effective than sand as a traction aid, and it’s a lot lighter in weight. I agree you should make sure your coolant is a 50/50 mix. I have lived in many snowy places, and find that good all-season tires are enough.

One thing no one has mentioned is YOU. There is a definite skill to driving on icy or snowy roads. There’s a lot to learn, and it’s a little different with rear or front wheel drive cars. Too much to write here, but part of what helps me keep in the right mind frame is to think of myself as skating. Maybe the first snow you can go to a big empty parking lot with a friend and get them to teach you.

I second the practicing in a safe place. Keep in mind that you’ll want to go very slowly and leave yourself plenty of room at all times. Even if you’re driving safely, you never know what the yahoo in front of you is going to do!

That includes the idiot in the 4x4 behind you who thinks he’s invincible.

Hopefully those idiots have learned to drive more conservatively, now that it costs $100. to fill the tank!
Still, it is amusing to see all of the Jeeps/Blazers/Explorers etc. sitting in a ditch, upside down, after passing traffic at an insane speed during winter storms.