It’s the beginning of September, and while nobody wants to even think about cold weather, it is certainly on its way. When the weather changes, so will your Jeep experience, and it’s better to be prepared now than try to play catch-up later.
Jeeps are year-round vehicles with the right maintenance. Don’t miss out on any off-road adventures this fall and winter and follow these guidelines.
- Switch to tall, skinny tires. They have a longer contact patch, giving you better traction on ice. Check your tire pressure too, as it drops when it gets cold.
- Run lower viscosity engine oil, like 5W-30. In extreme cold, you should switch to synthetic oil.
- Driving in snow can be tough on your cooling system. If your coolant liquid has been in there for more than a year, drain it and replace it. Do a coolant flush and use a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water.
While you’re down there, check all of your coolant system hoses. Replace any that have bulges, cracks, etc. When in doubt, replace!
- Grease everything underneath! Be sure o lubricate all of your door and tailgate locks with a good graphite lock lubricant. Don’t use anything oil-based, like WD-40. The inside of the locks will attract dirt, which attracts moisture and results in freezing.
- While on level ground, take your Jeep out of gear and chock the wheels. Check your driveshaft for any play. Check your U-joints for any up and down or side-to-side movement. If there is any play, replace them.
Also, rust is normal, but any lubrication fluid coming from the joints is a possible indicator of joint wear.
- Replace any accessory drive belts that are cracked or glazed. Don’t throw them away! Save them as spares just in case.
- Get a block heater with a timer to start heating the engine an hour or two before use.
- Stock up on the winter wiper fluid and replace old wiper blades.
- Check the battery to make sure it’s good and make sure you have a set of jumper cables just in case. A portable power source could be the best $35 you ever spend.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Keep a stock of candles, blanket, flashlight, extra clothes, flares, energy bars, matches/lighter, etc. Be sure to have stuff on-hand for getting out of a sticky situation, like a towrope or straps, military collapsible shovel, and a bag or two of sand for when you need extra traction. Those sandbags are good for having some extra weight in the back to help with traction.
Above all else, keep your top up and your doors on!