How to Prepare Your Old Car for Fall in Minneapolis, MN

If you own an older car in Minneapolis, it’s essential to prepare it for the fall. When the leaves on the trees start changing colors, that means that cold weather is on the way.

Driving an older car in Minneapolis when there is the potential for wintry conditions and freezing temperatures isn’t all fun and games. It’s time for you to prepare your old car for fall in Minneapolis, MN.

When temperatures drop, it puts extra stress on all the vehicles on the road, especially older cars. Vehicle systems are very susceptible to failure under the strain of changing weather and plummeting thermometers.

Aside from keeping up with the routine maintenance your vehicle requires, there are a few essential things you should do to prepare your old car for fall in Minneapolis.

Basics

Make sure that you test your car heater. You don’t want to be sitting in a cold car when it gets colder out, and Minneapolis is no stranger to below freezing temperatures during winter nights. Don’t necessarily trust the fuel gauge in your old car, either! Top of your fuel tank regularly to avoid picking up any sediment from the bottom of the tank.

Batteries and Cold Weather

When the temperature drops, the starting capacity of your battery is limited. At thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, your battery’s starting capacity can drop by about 20%. If the temperature drops even lower, your capacity will continue to drop.

When the temperatures get that low, the oil in your car’s engine becomes thicker, and that makes it takes even more capacity to start your old car.

Dirt, debris, and loose terminal connections can all rob your car of the capacity it needs to start. So, to help you prepare for the drop in temperatures and avoid starting issues in Minnesota’s frozen months, make sure to inspect your battery terminals for corrosion and loose connections as soon as you notice the leaves changing colors.

Also, stay alert for signs that your battery needs immediate replacement:

  • The car struggles to start
  • The battery hygrometer indicates it is time for replacement
  • Your headlights are dimmer than usual

Tires

Check your owner’s manual to see the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. Sometimes, a sticker on the door jamb or inside the gas cap also shows the recommended PSI.

Ensuring that your tires are at nominal pressures will help you preserve traction in slippery conditions - this can be especially important on days when there's heavy rainfall in Minneapolis, which are not uncommon in autumn.  Also, remember that tire pressures drop in cold weather, so check them regularly as it gets colder.

While you’re checking your air pressure, inspect your tires for wear. If the tread bars indicate it’s time for replacement, or you can see worn patches on the tread, it’s probably time for new rubber.

If your vehicle has summer tires, it might be time to think about getting a set of rubber rated for snow use. You have the option of purchasing all-season tires for year-round use or dedicated snow tires that are ideal for snowy conditions.

Just make sure that you’re not out on icy or snow-covered roads with bald, underinflated, or inappropriate tires. The fall and winter weather in Minneapolis, Minnesota, can be very unforgiving.

Fluids

Wiper Fluid

You can’t drive anywhere if you can’t see out the windshield. When the weather turns colder, we tend to use more wiper fluid. So make sure to top off your reservoir with a freeze-resistant fluid.

To be on the safe side, you might want to make an effort to use up a lot of what is left in the reservoir and fill it up with a new jug that you are sure is mixed at the correct ratio. If there is too much water, the reservoir or the lines could crack in the extremes of Minnesota’s weather.

Oil

We mentioned that a car’s oil changes a bit in cold weather. It becomes more viscous, thicker. That makes it harder for your car to start, and it puts strain on the motor until the oil warms up. Many mechanics recommend changing to a thinner oil in the wintertime. Check your owner’s manual, or speak to your favorite local mechanic. If you’re the DIY type, look at the label on your motor oil. 30W is lighter than 40W.

Coolant

It might seem counterintuitive to check your coolant in the cold weather. After all, it keeps the engine cool, so shouldn’t it be alright in the fall and winter? Unfortunately, no. If the ratio of antifreeze to water isn’t correct, you run the risk of it freezing in your radiator and causing severe damage.

Your owner’s manual is the best source of information for what type of coolant to use. It is good to drain and refill the cooling system periodically, as coolant does tend to break down. If you don’t want to drain and refill the system, your local auto parts store may be able to check the fluid’s mixture for you with a tester.

Conclusion

Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare your old car for fall in Minneapolis, MN. But, if this all seems like too much for you, maybe it’s time to consider junking that old car. We pay cash for cars in Minneapolis, and we can help you get rid of the headache.

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