Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2020

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The way you maintain your car is likely dependent on the weather.

No, not the weather for the next day or even the upcoming week.

We are talking seasonal weather here.

Depending on where you live, you may face a seasonal temperature minimum/maximum difference of more than 100 degrees.

Hot summers and frigid winters change the way cars should be maintained for the season.

Cost of DIY or do-it-yourself for everything, replace battery, tires, A/C recharge, and oil change.Note: I am going over 4 items. Replacing the battery, winter tires, A/C recharge, and oil change. If you were to do-it-yourself it would cost approximately $480 more or less.

Winter Vs. Summer Battery Maintenance

Car batteries are engineered to take the heat of engine compartments along with the ambient temperature, whether you are driving in Death Valley in the summer or going skiing in Vale in the winter.

That is, when they are new. Batteries begin to degrade from the date they are manufactured.

They are continually being charged and drained of energy, and as a Consumer Reports article on batteries explains, car electronics draw power even when cars are not running.

Cost of doing an oil change, replace battery, A/C recharge, and tire change by a mechanic.Note: As illustrated, if you were to have a mechanic do everything for you it would cost nearly $1,000. Or twice as much if you did it yourself.

Summer heat can boil off electrolyte fluid in batteries, and winter cold has a two-fold negative effect of cold reducing electrical capacity as well as making engines harder to start.

Carefully check the electrolyte levels (it contains sulfuric acid) in the summer, and consider replacing batteries three or more years old for more reliable winter starts.

Extremely cold regions may need an electric battery warmer.

How to test a car battery for a charge.

Note: Using a multi-meter place the red multi-meter lead to the red (positive) battery terminal. Place the black multi-meter lead to the black (negative) battery terminal. Then turn the multi-meter to “DC volts” setting. If you have 12.66 volts you have a full charge. If the reading is 12.45 you have 75% charge. If the reading is 11.89 volts you have a 0% charge.

Best Car Batteries to Buy & Cheapest Place to Find Them

Below I have provide at list of the top car batteries and where they are sold. My personal preference is the Interstate Battery. I have good luck with them.

Most all of the batteries in the list should suffice. I know buying online can be much cheaper, however I like to buy my car batteries from a retailer near me.

You can get coverage or help with it in case something happens, etc. I bought mine at Firestone which carry Interstate batteries.

I am a chick so I don’t want to do a lot of mechanic work, etc. So guys, don’t laugh.

One thing, the Optima car battery sold on Amazon has a lot of great reviews.

It is suppose to be a really good battery. However, it comes with a hefty price. 

Car BatteryPrice RangeCheapest Store to Buy
AutoCraft$119.99 - $158.99Advance Auto Parts
Bosch$156.99 - $193.98Sears, Pepboys, Amazon
Diehard$101.48 - $179.99Sears
Duralast$119.99 - $169.99AutoZone
Everstart$38.50 - $101.99Walmart
Interstate$100.98 - $199.99Costco
Optima$167.99 - $273.99Amazon
Napa$80.99 - $273.99Napa
Nascar Select$79.99 - $134.99Menards, Tractor Supply

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Most aftermarket car batteries sold in the United States are made by three companies that build them for retailers. Johnson Controls, which supplies more than half of the market, Exide, and East Penn.

For example, East Penn makes Duracell car batteries for the Procter & Gamble Company. P&G owns the trademark Duracell and company.

Swapping Out Tires in Snow Regions

Most passenger cars are sold with what are referred to as “All-Season” tires.

The term implies they are great for everything from torrential spring rains to winter blizzards.

The truth is that “All-Season” is a term of compromise.

They are really only great on dry pavement with varying traction in heavy rain or snow and practically none on ice.

Getting by with All-Season tires is like having one coat for every season in your region.

Rotating tire diagram for increasing longevity of tires.

Note: I decided to illustrate rotating tires. Even if you don’t get winter tires for your vehicle you should rotate the ones you currently have. This will improve the longevity of your vehicle’s tires and save you money in the long run. If you drive 15,000 per year you should be rotating every 6 to 8 months.

And if you have winter tires on your vehicle make sure to change them back in the summer. Winter tires wear a lot faster during the summer months.

It might be great if you live where the weather never changes much, but it is not good if have to deal with sticky summer pavement, heavy snow or torrential rains for your daily commute.

Winter tires need to be on more than just the drive wheels. You need to consider braking ability on slippery surfaces as well.

Swap out all four summer tires for winter treads where the snow falls.

For increased traction on ice, get tires studded. They are still legal up to April 15th or 30th depending on where you live with only rubber studs (no metal) approved for use in Alabama.

Where the rains come down in buckets, specialty tires help you avoid hydroplaning and should seriously be considered.

Best Winter Tires & the Cheapest Store to Find Them

Winter Car Tire PriceCheapest Place to Buy
Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905$172Discount Tire Direct
Goodyear Ultra Grip$70+Tire Rack
Pirelli Cinturato Winter$65+Walmart
Bridgestone Blizzak WS80$85+Walmart, Tire Rack
Winter Truck Tires
Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2$129+Discount Tire Direct
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2$120+Walmart
Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9$120+Discount Tire Direct
Firestone Winterforce UV$79Walmart

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AC Check in the Spring

You want the heater to blast out hot air in the winter, but you want that hot air to turn cold when you press that button to turn on the AC compressor in the summer.

As cars age, refrigerant leaks become more likely. Slow leaks are actually quite common in older cars.

Illustration of AC Pro MAX-SEAL Refrigerant into a vehicle.

Note: Illustration of AC Pro MAX-SEAL Refrigerant being put into a vehicle. Make sure to use safety precautions and canister instructions when recharging your vehicles A/C system. If you have to recharge there is 90% probability you have a leak in the system.

They leak enough refrigerant to get to a low enough level to engage the compressor safety switch that prevents the compressor coming on when refrigerant levels are low.

If you are a handy person, you can top off refrigerant yourself. Sealants are available too.

However, it is better to let a pro check the system because overfilling with refrigerant can cause damage too.

Best Air Conditioning Refrigerant Refill & Cheapest Place to Buy It

If you want to refill your air conditioning system below are the most popular refrigerant refill systems. A canister of it will cost you from $15 to a little over $32.

The two cheapest places to get them are Amazon and Walmart.

Make sure you check your vehicle’s manual or under the hood for the proper type of refrigerant.

A/C Refrigerant RefillPriceCheapest Place to Buy
A/C PRO ACP-100 Professional Formula R-134a$32.95Walmart
Interdynamics 345 R-134A Sub-Zero Synthetic Auto A/C Recharge$24.99Amazon
Interdynamics MAC-134 EZ Chill Refrigerant$21.95Amazon
AC Pro MAX-SEAL Refrigerant$15.24Walmart

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Steps to Recharging your Vehicle’s Air Conditioner

Below are the steps to recharge your vehicle’s air conditioning system.

Make sure you use proper safety gear and precaution. For example, eye-wear and gloves and the instructions on the canister.

This is procedure below is for a A/C system which has low refrigerant and you want to refill the refrigerant. 

If the compressor is not engaging you have a leak in your system.

If the compressor does not engage bring your vehicle to a professional and have them inspect the A/C system for a leak.

 Steps for Recharging Vehicle's A/C System
1Turn on your AC. Start your car and turn your AC to Max or High.
2Determine if AC compressor is engaging. If compressor is not engaging you may have a system leak. Take to professional for that.
3Turn vehicle off and test the pressure.
4Attach the recharge hose from the kit.
5Restart the vehicle.
6Thread the refrigerant can onto the recharge hose. Get to 40 PSI.
7Use thermometer and insert it into the AC vents and check the temperature.

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Different Engine Oil for Hotter or Colder Weather

Many owner’s manuals for new cars recommend a single oil viscosity for year-round use now.

However, some climate regions may require adapting the oil viscosity to the season, depending on the car.

Extremely hot weather may require using the recommended heavier viscosity oil while extremely cold weather may require an oil change to the thinner viscosity oil.

Minimum and maximum levels on an oil dipstick.

Note: Illustrated above is the minimum and maximum oil levels on a oil dipstick in a vehicle. If the oil is low add some. Make sure not to overfill with too much oil.

Consumers a few decades ago used 10W-30 and 10W-40 oil in most cars. 10W-40 poured like super thick honey in the cold.

Thin oils pour almost like water when it is hot. The key is to not rely on the oil change place to pick your oil but to rely on the information in the car’s manual.

Personally I like synthetic oils. In the long run they cost less than natural oils and many synthetics are formulated to flow more easily when cold.

Below is a table of the cost analysis of natural vs synthetic oils.

Type of Oil Cost of Oil ChangeRecommend Mileage Between Oil ChangesCost per MileChanges per 100,000 MilesCost Savings per Oil Change Over ConventionalGallons of Oil Saved per Change
Synthetic Blend$325,000$.006420$5.000.6
Pure Synthetic$457,500$.006013$7.001.5

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And an additional table for the best synthetics and where to buy for the cheapest price.

Synthetic OilPriceWhere to Buy
AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Oil* $12.45 (1 Qt)www.amsoil.com
Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil$42.76 (Case of 6)Walmart
Mobil 1 Extended Performance Synthetic Motor Oil$46.95 (Case of 6)Amazon, Walmart
Castrol Edge Full Synthetic Motor Oil$19.00 (5 Qts)Amazon
Royal Purple High Performance Synthetic Motor Oil$7.00 (1 Qt)Amazon, Walmart

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Whether it is going to be really hot or really cold, adjust how you take care of your car.

That is, if you want to keep it running and have it get you there and back as safely as possible.

Final Thoughts

Anticipate the changing seasons. Do not wait too long to put on the winter tires, and do not be in a hurry to take them off.

Snows can come early and stay late. Most car parts places will test your battery and charging system for free.

Do not wait for the first cold day to find out your car will not start.


Firestone AutoCare



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