4 Ways Your Car Maintenance Should Change With the Weather, for Car Batteries, Winter Tires, A/C Recharging, & the Best Type of Oil in the Winter
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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.
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.
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.
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 Battery||Price Range||Cheapest Store to Buy|
|AutoCraft||$119.99 - $158.99||Advance Auto Parts|
|Bosch||$156.99 - $193.98||Sears, Pepboys, Amazon|
|Diehard||$101.48 - $179.99||Sears|
|Duralast||$119.99 - $169.99||AutoZone|
|Everstart||$38.50 - $101.99||Walmart|
|Interstate||$100.98 - $199.99||Costco|
|Optima||$167.99 - $273.99||Amazon|
|Napa||$80.99 - $273.99||Napa|
|Nascar Select||$79.99 - $134.99||Menards, Tractor Supply|
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.
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||Price||Cheapest Place to Buy|
|Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905||$172||Discount 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||$79||Walmart|
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.
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 Refill||Price||Cheapest Place to Buy|
|A/C PRO ACP-100 Professional Formula R-134a||$32.95||Walmart|
|Interdynamics 345 R-134A Sub-Zero Synthetic Auto A/C Recharge||$24.99||Amazon|
|Interdynamics MAC-134 EZ Chill Refrigerant||$21.95||Amazon|
|AC Pro MAX-SEAL Refrigerant||$15.24||Walmart|
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|
|1||Turn on your AC. Start your car and turn your AC to Max or High.|
|2||Determine if AC compressor is engaging. If compressor is not engaging you may have a system leak. Take to professional for that.|
|3||Turn vehicle off and test the pressure.|
|4||Attach the recharge hose from the kit.|
|5||Restart the vehicle.|
|6||Thread the refrigerant can onto the recharge hose. Get to 40 PSI.|
|7||Use thermometer and insert it into the AC vents and check the temperature.|
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.
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 Change||Recommend Mileage Between Oil Changes||Cost per Mile||Changes per 100,000 Miles||Cost Savings per Oil Change Over Conventional||Gallons of Oil Saved per Change|
And an additional table for the best synthetics and where to buy for the cheapest price.
|Synthetic Oil||Price||Where 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|
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.
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.