Get engine performance and drive-ability problems corrected — Hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.
Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel, and PCV. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.
As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. Do-It-Yourselfers proceed with caution: Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled!
The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for comfort and driver visibility.
Replace old blades regularly. If your climate is harsh, purchase winter blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent — you’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months.
Check your battery. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment
Inspect all lights. Replace burned out bulbs; clean road grime from all lenses.
Exhaust fumes inside your vehicle’s cabin can be deadly. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift.
Worn tires are dangerous in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good working condition. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excess gasoline.
Have your brakes checked periodically for safety and to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.
The transmission is often neglected until a major failure. Routine checks and fluid changes at prescribed intervals can prevent very costly repairs down the line.
Always carry an emergency kit with you: extra gloves, boots and blankets; flares; a small shovel and sand or kitty litter; tire chains; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a cell phone and extra car charger. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.