Winter Weather: Drive with Confidence

 

It took its sweet time getting here, but winter weather has finally brought us snow. Whether you’re roaming the snow-covered trails or dealing with slippery road conditions, your Jeep is more than capable of handling any winter driving situation.

If your Wrangler has the standard Command-Trac® 4x4 system splits torque 50/50 between the front and rear axles, which comes in handy when you need more traction while off-roading. And Rubicon’s Rock-Trac® 4x4 system is surefooted on just about any surface.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to take precautions.

 

Drive Cautious

No matter what you drive, ice is ice. Reduce your speeds when necessary and be sure to leave plenty of space between yourself and other drivers. Be especially careful while driving at night, driving through shallow snow, or driving over bridges.

If you hit ice, don’t lock those brakes no matter what. Pump your brake pedal and draw down your momentum before trying to come to a complete stop.

 

Secure Your Gear

When conditions are right, it’s time to ski! Whether you’re heading to the mountains or seeking out a secluded place for some cross-country skiing, make sure your skis, snowboards, and whatever else are secured safely to your rack.

What do you mean you don’t have a rack? Check these out to see which is best for your needs.

 

Off-road With Care

Tread snow like deep mud or sand. Feather the clutch and throttle for the smoothest launch possible to keep from digging down into the cold stuff. High-floatation tires are best for deep snow, on and off the road.

And four-wheel drive only truly helps at lower speeds. Not bad for off-roading, but while driving at higher speeds on-road, it’s best to just take it out of four-wheel drive.

 

Keep Emergency Gear Packed – No Excuses!

Pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re wandering off the beaten path you should always keep some emergency gear stashed for the worst-case scenario. Extra food and water, basic tools, fire extinguisher, flares, spare tire, jumper cables, and blankets are all standard. Here’s an incredibly comprehensive list to consider.

Above all…and we cannot stress this enough…do NOT wait until the last minute. The only thing that sucks more than being stuck in the snow, is being stuck in the snow and thinking about all the things you should have packed.

 

Learn How To Use Your Winch and Tow Rope

 

It seems so simple. You just take that thing, then pull it out of the thing, then…tie it around that thing…then…um.

Yeah. It’s a little more involved than that. Watch this video for a basic tutorial.

 

Know Your Terrain – Downhill is Easier Than Uphill

Remember how much fun sled riding was? Remember how much of a pain it was to walk back up to the top of the track?

Ok, now imagine going downhill for pretty much the entire length of a trail, then turning around and trying to get back out.

Before you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, research your intended off-roading area and know the terrain. Know where you want to go, and which places you want to avoid. Having a GPS is great, but knowing how to use and read a compass is indispensible.

 

Follow us on Facebook!

All that being said, be safe out there and have fun. And by all means, share your winter adventure pictures on our Facebook, and we’ll put together a photo album for our blog at the end of the winter!

Heater Maintenance: Stay Warm This Winter

Don't let a bad heater freeze you out of winter fun!

It’s not quite a northeast Ohio winter right now, but it’s getting there. After you’ve switched to your hard top, stocked any emergency supplies (because we know you can’t resist playing in the snow), and checked your tire pressure, give your heater a test run. If it’s not blowing hot air, this will be a long winter.

If your heater is producing heat when it isn’t cold outside, but blows lukewarm air when you need heat most, you might be dealing with a stuck thermostat or a heater core that needs flushed.

Stuck Thermostat

Stuck thermostatIf your top radiator hose or heater hoses aren’t getting hot, you may have a failed thermostat. For some thermostats, the failsafe is ‘open’, so when it fails it will stick open, and that’s not good. Continual cold weather also helps keep the engine cool, so that could also be a reason why your temperature gauge reads in the ‘normal’ range. 

Make sure your thermostat reads 195°F and is working properly. You can do this by turning your heater all the way up and letting it run at full blast for a few minutes. Slide the stem of an instant read thermometer into your heater vent to get the temperature.

If you need to purchase and install a new one, some thermostats have a weep/bleed hole drilled in, which helps bleed air out of the coolant system. This allows for a tiny amount of coolant flow in case of a stuck thermostat.

Plugged Heater Core

Over time, your heater hoses can build up with gunk (yes, that’s a technical term) that prevents heat from coming through. If your heater is blowing lukewarm air and your thermostat is working fine, you heater core may need reverse flushed.

We found a great step-by-step DIY guide to flushing out your heater core. It’s easy enough that you can do it right in your driveway with minimal equipment. Pay special note to Step 5, which uses a cleaning agent to get any remaining debris. It is imperative that you only use a cleaning agent that is safe for aluminum. The heater core and hoses are all made from aluminum, and any leftover cleaning agent that isn’t safe for aluminum will eat away at your equipment. Not a good thing.

Check and Test Coolant

When you flush, check to see if any coolant coming out has a rust color. That’s a good indicator that your coolant likely needs changed. This video shows other great ways to test your coolant/antifreeze, and this follow-up video will show you how to flush and change your coolant.

 

 

One Last Trick

In a pinch, one good way to heat up your engine faster without over heating it is to put a piece of cardboard or corrugated ‘plastic cardboard’ in front of your radiator so it covers about half to three-quarters of where the air flows through the radiator. This will help the heater heat faster and maintain better.

Having a good working heater in the winter is critical for the health of your engine, as well as the health of the driver and your passengers. If you’re the adventurous type and plan to go off-road this winter, a properly working heater becomes a safety factor in the event you get stuck and have to wait for help. Take good care of your heater, and it will take care of you.