It’s no secret that you need to prep your car for the winter weather. But winterizing your vehicle can get expensive fast if you’re not careful, which might be why Americans drive the least during the winter months at 25.7 miles daily. At least 77% of vehicles on the road today need some type of maintenance or repair.

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can make your car safer to drive in the winter weather even when you’re on a budget.

Check your antifreeze and engine coolant levels

Antifreeze is what keeps your engine from freezing when the temperatures drop below 0. Without antifreeze, you could end up on the side of the road when it’s a cold, dangerous time to be stranded.

Pick up a kit at an auto supply store that lets you check your engine coolant levels. These kits are typically inexpensive and will let you know if you have the right amount of coolant in your vehicle. You can also check your car’s antifreeze levels by following the instructions in your car owner’s manual.

Keep your car clear of salt

You might not think anything of the salt that’s on the roads. But if you’re not careful to get road salt off your car periodically, it could eat away at your vehicle.

When road salt cakes on your car, it causes corrosion and rust begins to form under the paint job. Salt can also affect your vehicle’s mechanics. The undercarriage of your car has many areas that can be damaged by salt if left alone.

Equipment cleaning is governed by four fundamental principles: mechanics, temperature, time, and chemicals. To keep your car safe from the effects of road salt, you do the following:

    • Avoid driving in puddles
    • Wash your car as soon as possible after each snowstorm or rain shower
    • Use a car wash that doesn’t use recycled water
    • Wash your car’s undercarriage frequently
    • Repair chipped paint as soon as possible to avoid corrosion
    • Apply wax to your vehicle every six months

Switch to winter-grade oil when you get your oil change

Up to 40 gallons of fuel are used in transportation every year. But it’s important to remember that your car’s oil has a big part to play during the winter, too.

If you’re looking for a cheap way to winterize your vehicle, switching up your oil during the winter months is a good way to do it. Most cars are recommended to have their oil changed once every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first.

During your next oil change, switch to a winter-grade oil. You want a thinner oil during the winter weather to avoid the lubricant from getting too thick.

You can determine the viscosity of your oil in cold weather by checking the first number in the oil specification. You want to make the switch to an oil that has a lower viscosity grade in the cold. For instance, a 5W-30 oil is better in the winter than a 10W-30 oil.


When you’re on a budget, the last thing you want to do is put more money into your vehicle. But it’s important to conduct winter maintenance on your vehicle to keep yourself and others safe on the road this season. By following the tips above, you can winterize your vehicle without spending a fortune.

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