Almost everyone makes some kind of New Year's resolutions (don't we?)—exercising more, losing a few pounds, dropping a bad habit. And more often than not, we've forgotten about those resolutions by mid-February.
There's nothing wrong with setting up some New Year's Resolutions for your car, though—and it's easier to keep up with those! Plus, it doesn't hurt that since Jan. 1 is right in the dead of winter, some of these resolutions will also help winterize your car. Here are a few ideas.
Invest in a coolant/antifreeze tester: Your car's cooling system does a lot more than just protect against overheating in the hot months. It helps power the heater and defroster, and prevents freeze-ups in winter conditions. Your cooling system needs regular maintenance to stay healthy, though. Antifreeze contains anti-corrosion agents that help prevent the buildup of scale in the cooling system, which can plug tiny passages in the radiator and heater core and reduce cooling efficiency. Still, corrosion can accumulate over time, and that's why it's important to have the system flushed and refilled with the proper coolant at regular intervals. It's simple to test the condition of the coolant with a hygrometer and determine whether it's time for maintenance.
Switch your oil: If you're still using conventional oil, winter is a good time to switch over to synthetic. Along with its superior engine protection and lubricating properties, synthetic oil is more stable and won't thin out at high temperatures or thicken in the winter. This is especially important at start-up, when oil needs to quickly make its way to the engine's upper-end components, such as the cam and valvetrain.
Replace your wipers: It's easy to forget about wipers, but even the best are only good for a year or two before the sun's UV rays and normal wear and tear take their toll. If your wipers are cracked, dried out or losing strips of rubber, just replace them. It's easy and inexpensive and can make your car a lot safer and less exhausting to drive.
Get seasonal with your tires: What kind of shape are your tires in? Do you have all-season tires, or do you plan to switch to a dedicated set of snow tires before the weather gets really bad? If you use snow tires, remember that they aren't designed for use when the temperature is above 40 or 45 degrees. How much tread depth do your tires have? For the most exact measurement you can purchase a tire tread gauge - most cost less than $10. Or, for a quick test, try this: stick a penny in the tread grooves, Lincoln head down. If the tread reaches the top of Abe's head, your tread depth is 2/32", the minimum required by many state laws. Try again with a quarter; if the tread reaches the top of Washington's head, your tires are at 4/32". One more time with the penny—if the rubber touches the Lincoln Memorial, your tread depth is 6/32". At the very least, consider having your tires rotated.
Finish: A good coat of wax can help your vehicle shed dirt and road grime easily, and this is extra important if you live in an area that sees a lot of snow and road chemicals. While you're at it, apply a couple of coats of Rain-X to the windshield glass to help repel water and slush. Pair this with a good interior detail job, and you'll just feel better about driving it—kinda like the feeling you get when you first get out of the shower and get dressed after a hard workout.