Winterize Your Jeep
Winerize Your Jeep

Is Your Jeep Ready?

Winter is in full effect. Depending on where you are in the world, this could be just like any other season, only a little cooler. For many, however, this means sub-freezing temperatures, snow, ice, blizzard-like conditions, and inches, possibly feet, of standing snow. Dangerous weather to be broken down in.

If you haven’t already, NOW would be a great time to do your maintenance for the winter. Whether you plan to play in it, work in it, or just commute in it, winter maintenance is necessary and just smart.

I’ve put a general list together of the more common items to help prepare you and your vehicle for the winter months. If you want to do more, I highly encourage it! It’s for the sake of your safety and the safety of anyone else that drives it or rides in it.

1. Never let your vehicle get below a 1/4 tank. It’s going to take you longer to get where you need to be so ensure you have enough fuel for the trip.

2. Make sure your cooling system is in good shape. If you are in doubt about the mixture of antifreeze to water in it, drain the liquid and replace it. Also, if the coolant has been in there more than a year, drain and replace it too. Believe it or not, snow driving is hard on the cooling system, and you want everything working in top form.

3. Check hoses while you are messing with the cooling system. Check them for bulges, cracks, or anything out of the ordinary. If there is any doubt, replace them.

4. If it can be greased, grease it.

5. Check driveshafts for play. Do this while your vehicle is out of gear with the wheels chocked on level ground. If any of your U-joints are going bad or seem questionable, replace them.

6. Check your accessory drivebelt(s). If any are cracked or glazed, replace it and keep the old one under the seat as a spare, just in case.

7. Check your axles, transmission, and transfer case for water. Mainly applies to SUV’s and Off-Road vehicles. Just look for chocolate or strawberry milk shakes, especially if you’ve done any stream, river, or pond crossings, you should replace those fluids.

8. If you want to swap to winter tires, now is the time to do it. If not, check tires for wear, dry rotting, and tread depth. Anything under 11/44-inch is dangerous in the winter and should be replaced.

9. Lubricate all door and tailgate locks with a good graphite lock lubricant, not WD-40 or anything else oil-based. The inside of the locks will attract dirt, which will attract moisture, which freezes.

10. If you have a rubber door, tailgate, liftgate, and even hood seals, spray with a silicone-based spray. If rain, sleet, or snow finds its way to your seals and then freezes overnight, you’ll have problems getting in.

11. Check clutch and brake fluids. If they are really dirty, it means there is a lot of moisture in them. Have them power bled or get a friend to help. Get new, clean, moisture-free DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid in there.

12. Check brake pads and shoes. Now is the time to make sure they are OK.

13. Emergency/parking brake: Make sure the cables are OK (no rust, fraying, or anything), and the system works as it’s supposed to.

14. Any electrical connections that are subject to the weather – such as headlights, turn signals, stoplights, winch cable controller, electric fan connectors, and the like – should get some dielectric grease applied to them. If they use road salt where you are or where you go, the connections will corrode much faster in the winter and, in some cases, cause other problems.

15. If it gets really cold where you live or you drive in really sloppy conditions, get some of the “winter” windshield washer fluid. Drain your washer reservoir either through use or other means and run your washer pump for 10-15 seconds to get the summer swamp water (or whatever was in there) out of the lines from that last mudding trip. I run orange Rain-X through mine.

Some Winter Necessities To Keep In Your Vehicle For Personal Survival
1. Survival gear. That means sleeping bags, space blankets, warm jackets, gloves, hats, dry socks, and a change of pants. Get in the habit of storing at least a heavy jacket or polar fleece in your vehicle as well as a wool hat and warm gloves. Take the other stuff for longer trips.

2. Water. Keep at least a couple of bottles of water in your vehicle.

3. Flashlight with extra batteries. Even better, an LED flashlight with extra batteries.

4. Food. Granola bars, oatmeal bars, or just about any non-chocolate energy bar are easy to store in your vehicle.

5. Communication device. Ham radio, CB, and/or cellular phone, are all decent choices. The battery rule applies here too, if its not hard-wired into your vehicle.

For those that really want to prepare for the worst, try to make room for Emergency Vehicle Survival stuff.

1. Radiator hose repair kit, with the correct size tube for the upper and lower radiator hose as well as the heater hoses

2. Spare accessory drivebelt(s)

3. Coolant

4. Rain-X (in case of wiper failure – won’t help once they put down salt or sand though)

5. Extra windshield-washer fluid, either in a spray bottle or a gallon bottle

6. Rags

8. Road flares or emergency triangles

9. Duct tape

10. Tire chains or studs, if they are legal where you live.

11. Fix-a-flat tire inflator/sealer – the tire shop will hate you for it, but it beats having to change the tire in a blizzard

12. Spare tire, jack, and lug wrench (just in case the fix-a-flat doesn’t work)

13. Shovel. If you have an SUV or truck, get the biggest shovel you can fit in your vehicle. If it’s a snow shovel, make sure it’s heavy-duty.

14. Depending on your vehicle, equip it with something to help you get unstuck in the event you get stuck. Strap, D-ring shackles, etc.

With any luck, you will not have any break-down issues during the winter. The risk is always there though and it’s more dangerous during the winter conditions. Personally, I’d like to have it and not need it instead of need it and not have it.