How To Winterize Your MustangLast Updated November 17, 2016
There are many Mustang owners out there who may not be able to put their pony garage during the cold winter months and drive a second vehicle. With that being said, ensuring that your Mustang is ready for the winter requires a different set of maintenance items in comparison to your average oil change.
It's really imperative that you properly maintain your Mustang. Not only when it comes to the longevity of your muscle car, but also the potential problems and headaches you could have down the road.
On top of that, winter is the worst possible season for cars. Between getting beat up by salt and other potential damages of Mother Nature, the engine and other aspects of the vehicle see the largest variations of temperature than any other season. With that said, there are a few things you should be sure to check in late Fall every year.
In the video below, CJ's own Freddy goes into great detail with some tips & tricks to keep your Mustang in pristine condition whether it sits in a heated garage or is driven daily throughout the cold winter months. A great tip would be using WD-40 on weatherstripping in an effort to fight ice from forming and sealing your door shut in deep freeze temperatures. The same idea goes for those with Mustangs that have key holes to open the door; spray a little WD-40 in there and work it in with the key to help prevent ice from forming and keeping your door from opening. From de-icing your windshield, to checking your battery and tips on heating your car up quickly during a cold start, Freddy covers it all and more in this CJ’s Resource Video!
Change Your Oil
It’s sounds simple and something that people wouldn’t forget, but with the cold months approaching it’s always smart to change your oil going into winter. There’s no doubt that the constant hot/cold cycles during the winter months can take a toll on any vehicle.
Another thing to keep in mind is depending on how cold your region’s winters are, you may have to look into changing the viscosity of your oil. The colder the outside climate, the thinner you are going to want your oil to be to ensure all areas of your engine get properly lubricated.
Check Your Brakes
Again, this seems like common sense but if you’re edging on the border of needing a new set of brake pads, then now may be a good time to replace them. The last thing you need is to worry about the condition of your brakes in the middle of a snowstorm. While you’re at it, set your Mustang up with a brand new set of brake rotors as well.
Check Your Exhaust System
Odds have it that you’ve probably added an aftermarket exhaust system to really bring the muscle car sound out of your Mustang. That’s great, but you’re still going to want to make sure that there are no potential leaks in your exhaust. Something as simple as an exhaust clamp could be the cause for an exhaust leak.
Exhaust leaks are even more of a safety concern in the winter time in case you or your Mustang gets snowed in. Snow can easily block the typical route exhaust exits your car, so you’re going to want to be sure that no toxic gases can enter the cabin of your Mustang.
Check Your Battery
Checking your battery is kind of along the same lines as checking your brakes. If you’ve had your battery for a few years and it’s beginning to lose its ability to hold a charge, then it may be time for a new battery. Not to mention that the cold winter months can be very hard on a car’s battery due to the fact they don’t hold a charge as efficiently in cooler ambient temperatures.
If you’re on the border of whether or not to buy a battery due to the fact that your battery may not be charging to its full potential, it may be a good idea to check your alternator’s charging ability as well. If you have a higher mileage Mustang, there is a possibility that your battery could be completely fine, but your alternator isn’t charging the battery correctly.
For those that plan on storing their Mustang over the winter months in a nice, warm garage, be sure to pick up a battery tender to trickle charge your battery and keep it from dying over time.
Check Under The Hood
We know that these are all basic things to check, but sometimes it’s easy to forget to check the simple things like a small tug on your serpentine belt to make sure everything is tight. Look around under your hood and make sure your coolant hoses are properly connected, the electrical connectors are properly in their sockets, electrical tape is where it needs to be and that your air filter is clean. Like we said earlier, winters can be hard on your Mustang, so making sure that everything is in proper working order is imperative.
Check The Cooling System
While you’re under the hood, check your coolant reservoir. Is the color correct? When is the last time you may have added coolant to the mix? Did you add water to match the ratio? This is important because if there is too much water in the mix, then it could freeze in the winter months and potentially damage your engine. To prevent this from happening, make sure you have a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water in your Mustang’s engine. To make this easier, many auto parts stores sell pre-mixed coolant.
If you're still unsure of the freezing point of your coolant, Freddy explains in the video above on how to properly test your coolant and its freezing point using a tool you can pick up at any local hardware or automotive parts store.
On average, windshield wipers should be replaced once a year. In my personal opinion, the best time to do so would be in the fall in preparation for the winter months. That way, you have brand new wipers heading into winter to fight the snow, ice, salt and whatever else Mother Nature and your state’s salt trucks throw on the roadways.
Remember, windshield wipers are your first line of defense for visibility to the road in front of you; they’re definitely something that you don’t want to skimp out on. On top of that, be sure to top off your windshield wiper fluid with a de-icer that is good to a freezing point of temperatures around -30 degrees.
Check Your Exterior Lights
And no, we’re not just talking about headlights. We’re talking about all of your lights! It’s not only important to be able to see in front of you, but it’s also just as important to the safety of you and your passengers that those around you can see your Mustang as well. From tail lights to headlights, be sure that all of your lenses are not hazy and your bulbs are functional.
Consider Snow Tires
It may sound over the top, but a proper set of tires during the winter months, on a rear-wheel drive car to say the least, will help out tremendously when it comes to maneuvering through sketchy winter conditions. Snow tires aren’t what they used to be either. Technology has come a long way from loud, noisy and obnoxious snow tires. Be sure to look into this as an option with another set of wheels for an easy swap in the late fall.
If you’re not ready to make the move to snow tires or the climate in your area only calls for all-season tires, then at the very least be sure to check tire pressures. You can find the proper inflation levels on the door tag inside your driver door jamb. It’s important to check tire pressures due to the fact that air pressure can drop as the ambient temperature gets cooler.
Tips & Tricks For Winterizing Your Mustang
There’s no question that having an SUV with all wheel drive or four wheel drive would be preferable in the winter months. However, that doesn’t make your Mustang totally immobile. Follow these additional steps in order to help your Mustang work its way through the winter months.
- Add a bag of sand or kitty litter to the trunk area for additional weight over the drive wheels. This could help provide traction if you ever get stuck as well.
- Be easy on the pedals! The clutch can be your best friend during the winter months as it directly controls the amount of power meeting the rear wheels. If you have an automatic, don’t fret - be easy on the pedal and you should be good!
- Make a safety kit for your trunk including things like an ice scraper, flashlight, flares, jumper cables, tool kit, tire gauge, first-aid, and more.
- Grab a rag and some WD-40 to wipe on weatherstripping in an effort to fight snow and ice from freezing on the surface. That way, you'll reduce the risk of your doors freezing shut.
There are many Mustang owners out there who have the luxury of another vehicle to take them through the chilly months. But the reality is that most enthusiasts don’t. Don’t worry - it is possible to daily drive a Mustang through the winter months; the key to that is ensuring that your pony is ready for the challenge.
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