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5 Houston Winter Car Care Tips

Car Care

Tire Tread, Tire Pressure and Battery

Houston is known for its typical hot weather throughout most of the year. However, a few months out of the year, we need to adapt and prepare ourselves and our cars for when it actually gets cold down here in the Bayou City. This article will help you understand some of the important fundamentals of preparing your car for winter.


Your battery can die at any time of the year, but there usually seems to be a high spike in dead batteries during the winter seasons. It’s already bad enough when your car stalls on the road, but to be stuck on the road with a dead battery is even worse.

One of the more common problems that cause dead batteries is having corrosion around your battery and the battery terminals. When a strong connection is not made with your battery, you have a higher chance of your car not starting.

If you haven’t inspected your battery and its terminals in the past six months, you’ll want to bring your car in to Ripley’s. Our friendly mechanics will check the battery terminals to make sure they’re free of corrosion, and we’ll tighten your battery terminals so they have a strong connection.

Another tip is to keep the car inside your garage or somewhere that isn’t as cold as outside. This will minimize further damage to your battery and any other internal parts of your engine.

Tire Pressure

The tires on your car are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Neglecting your tires’ air and tread condition can have costly consequences for you, your family, and others.

If you think a tire on your car is underinflated because of a nail, think again. As the temperature drops outside, so does the air pressure inside your tires (for more details on air pressure, read this article).

It’s also important to note your tires can be as much as 50% underinflated before you can visually tell they’re low. Therefore, you don’t want to wait until your tires look low to put air in them. If you haven’t checked your air pressure in the past three months, you can stop by Ripley’s we’ll check your tires and air pressure and make sure they’re properly inflated at no cost to you.

Tire Tread

Think of your tire tread like the bottom of your shoes (also called tread). When you buy a new pair of running shoes, you feel like you can walk and run anywhere because of the firm grip you have to the ground. As you use your running shoes, you’ll start to feel less grip to the ground. After a while, you’ll start to slip under certain circumstances, which would have never happened when the shoes were new.

That’s the same process your tires go through after you drive on them for a long time. If you’ve been driving a lot on the same type of tires for over 12 months, you’ll want to get your tires inspected to make sure they still have the proper tread depth to grip the ground while you’re driving.

If the tread depth on any of your tires is not at its optimal level, you have a higher chance of sliding uncontrollably when you brake at a stop sign, red light, or at an unexpected sudden stop.

Add Coolant / Antifreeze

Antifreeze and coolant are interchangable terms. It is a fluid that serves to maintain a safe temperature for the water in your vehicle’s radiator. Thus it serves to prevent overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter.

So when winter temperatures approach freezing, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper amount of antifreeze in the water in your radiator from freezing. Additionally, the materials in coolant fluid can help prevent rust and corrosion from building in your radiator.

The fluid in your radiator should generally be a 50-50 mix of water and coolant. You can purchase coolant either as 100% coolant or a 50-50 mix of coolant and water. If you purchase the 100% product, you’ll need to make sure you radiator half coolant and half water. If you purchase the 50-50 product, you can simply pour it directly into your radiator.

Checking your coolant
To check if your coolant is at the right levels, you’ll need to take a look at the coolant reservoir. There will be two indicator lines in it. One shows the safe level when the engine is hot, and the other shows the safe level when it’s cold. If you see the fluid is low, you can add more.

Adding Coolant

If you’ve determined that you need to add coolant to your vehicle, wait at least 30 minutes after you’ve turned the car off. You don’t want to risk burning yourself if you don’t have to. Once the radiator has cooled, you can remove the radiator cap and add the coolant. Even though the radiator should be cool at this point, it is always a good practice to remove the radiator cap using a glove or rag to protect your hand, in case any pressure in the radiator causes hot fluids to spew out. Once you’ve added the coolant to the radiator, put the cap back on. Then add coolant to the reservoir until it reaches the cold line.

Check Your Exhaust

During the winterseason, many people prefer to let their car warm up before driving off. Since it’s cold outside you wouldn’t lower your windows, and if your vehicle has an exhaust leak that means you’ll be inhaling toxic exhaust fumes that can build up in your car. This would continue as long as you drive. So it is vitally important that you have your exhaust system checked for any leaks. If any are present, you should get them repaired immediately.

Other Winter Vehicle Checklist Items

There are several other aspects of your vehicle that you should check on, especially during the winter. Here’s a checklist you can go through with all your vehicles to make sure they are prepared for the winter driving conditions:

  • Replace worn windshield wipers
  • Check all your lights and bulbs
  • Check your oil and oil filter
  • Carry battery cable jumper cables in your car for emergency

Winter is upon us here in Houston, so it's important that you take the time to apply the guidelines expressed in this article to make sure your car is ready for the coming months of cold weather.

If you have any questions or need any help preparing your car for winter, feel free to call us or contact us online.


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