How Should You Winterize Your Truck This Year?

If you're still reeling from the effects of last winter's weather, you may not want to hear that the Farmers Almanac has predicted more of the same for the winter of 2015 and 2016. Unless you live on the lower West Coast or in the Southwest, you can expect colder-than-normal temperatures this winter, with the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic predicted to be hit with heavy snowstorms in January and February. What can you do to winterize your truck in anticipation of snow, ice, and winter precipitation? Read on to learn more about preparing your truck for an extra cold and snowy winter. 

Check your tires

Going into winter with bald or bulging tires can be a dangerous mistake, particularly when heavy snow or ice is predicted. If your tires aren't able to grip the road's surface well (even in 4WD), you could wind up sliding off the road or into another vehicle. You'll want to have your tires carefully inspected and rotated in autumn, and may need to purchase a new pair or full set if yours are nearing the end of their lifespan. Depending upon the winter forecast for your area, you may opt to purchase snow and ice tires or go with a sturdy all-season tire instead. 

When your tires are inspected or replaced, your tire pressure should also be checked, as cold temperatures can force air from the tire and lower its pressure. If your truck isn't equipped with sensors that can alert you when your tire pressure goes too low, you may opt to keep a small tire pressure gauge in your vehicle to periodically check your tires and ensure they're still safe.

Dilute your antifreeze less than normal

Normally, pure antifreeze is diluted with water before being added to your cooling system. In other cases, you may have purchased pre-diluted antifreeze from an auto parts store. But if you're in a part of the country expecting extra-cold temperatures, you may want to consider increasing the concentration of antifreeze in your antifreeze and water mixture. You should be able to mix a ratio of up to 70 percent antifreeze to 30 percent water without causing any damage to your engine, and you won't need to worry about your antifreeze becoming slushy or frozen even if your area suffers ultra-cold temperatures. 

Make sure your 4WD is in good working condition

Few things can be more stomach-dropping than feeling your 4WD fail to engage or cause your truck to run choppily when you find yourself driving in harsh winter conditions. You'll want to test out your 4WD components and ensure that everything is in good working order well before you find yourself in need of extra power and traction. If you find that your truck isn't easily transferring into 4WD or makes a grinding noise during shifting, you'll want to bring it to a mechanic to determine what truck parts are in need of repair or replacement. In some cases, this problem can be as simple as applying some oil or lubricant; in others, you may need a new transfer case or even axle. 

Inspect and replace your brakes

Like tires, brakes are crucial for winter driving safety. If you've noticed that your brakes feel spongy or make a squealing or grinding noise when depressed, you'll likely need new brake pads, calipers, or even rotors before the weather turns cold. Even if your brakes seem to be operating well, it's still a good idea to have them checked over to ensure they're wearing evenly and still have plenty of life left. By going into winter with a new or nearly-new set of brakes, you'll feel as confident as possible while driving in even the worst blizzard conditions.