Winter can be a magical time of year, full of holiday fun and gift-giving — which also makes it one of the most expensive seasons. Unexpected vehicle expenses can be hard to cope with when you’re already strapped for cash.
Budgeting for seasonal maintenance
If you already own a car, making a budget for seasonal car expenses can help you prepare for any issues that may arise. Even a few dollars tucked away can make a big difference.
If you’re looking for a new car, winter expenses should be included in your overall budget. Start building a budget with Birchwood Credit Solutions’ Car Loan Calculator to estimate your monthly car loan payments, and read our blog post to figure out how to budget for regular car maintenance.
You can also get in touch with one of our finance managers with any budgeting questions you have.
Here are 10 winter expenses to prepare for:
A dead battery
Low temperatures can make your battery sluggish to start and decrease its ability to hold a charge — especially if your battery is more than three years old. As a driver, you also put extra strain on your battery in the winter with the increased use of lights and cabin heating systems. These seven warning signs can tell you when it’s time for a new car battery.
New winter tires
Deep grooves and flexible rubber make winter tires ideal for driving in snow and ice. However, these same characteristics mean they wear out faster than all-season or all-weather tires. A quick way to check if your winter tires need to be replaced is by sticking a dime in the tread, if you can see the top of the sailboat it’s time for a new set.
Birchwood Credit Solutions is part of Manitoba Public Insurance’s Winter Tire Program, which provides financing up to $2,000 for new tires. Visit MPI’s website to see if you qualify.
A malfunctioning block heater
Block heaters come standard in most vehicles sold in cold climates. When you plug your car in overnight, your block heater makes it easier to start in the morning by keeping the oil in your engine from freezing. If your car won’t start after it’s been plugged in and the power source is working, a dead block heater is probably to blame.
Worn spark plugs
Many people are quick to blame a car that won’t start on a dead battery, but faulty or worn spark plugs might be the real culprit. Spark plugs play a vital role in your engine’s combustion and damaged plugs can inhibit your engine’s ability to turn over. The good news is they’re not that expensive to replace.
Burnt out exterior lights
The season’s shorter days mean your exterior lights are working overtime, which can lead to an increased chance of burn outs. Exterior lights are an important safety feature because they make your vehicle more visible in snow and sleet. Try to replace burnt out lights as soon as you notice them.
Many transmissions fail in the wintertime because of frozen or low fluid levels. You can avoid costly repairs by flushing your transmission line and topping it up with fluid rated for low temperatures.
Broken windshield wipers
Mucky winter weather and repeated use can do a number on your windshield wipers and affect visibility. Watch for streaking and cracked blade rubber and avoid using your wipers to clear snow off your windshield when you’re in a rush — this can damage the wiper motor.
A frozen gas line
Just like other fluids, gasoline is prone to freezing when it’s cold out. A frozen gas line makes it hard to start the engine and can cause stopping or stalling after running. Move your vehicle into a garage to warm up or buy a fuel additive designed to thaw frozen gas lines. As a preventative measure, keep your tank as full as possible during winter.
Extra trips to the car wash
You should expect to spend more on car washes during the winter months. Dirt, sand and road salt build up can seriously damage your vehicle’s paint job, giving rust spots a chance to form. Make sure you dry your vehicle thoroughly so hinges and locks don’t freeze up.
Seasonal tune ups
Bringing your vehicle in for a tune up at the beginning of winter will allow you to fix issues that could get worse in the cold. If you’re already taking your car to the garage to get winter tires put on, ask your mechanic to make sure your brakes, engine, battery, oil and air filters are in tip-top shape.
At Birchwood Credit Solutions we specialize in helping all types of drivers, including new Canadians and drivers with less-than-perfect credit, find great vehicles that fit their budget. Take a few minutes to fill out our online application form today. You can be pre-approved in less than three minutes!
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