Seattle; Is your Subaru Ready for Winter?

The climate in the Puget Sound area during winter is usually pretty mild, we are just not going to spend 3 to 4 months under a sheet of ice and snow, rely on snowmobiles to get to work, or suffer many blizzards. Last year was the worst winter in years around here, but even then it was just a couple of weeks worth of weather towards the end of February and into March. Having said all of that, don’t let the mild weather distract you from just how important it is to Winterize your Subaru, and there really is no better time than now to beat the winter freeze. As I write this, temperatures have dipped below freezing in the Seattle area and we have been busy with the typical dead batteries, low tire pressure lights and other things that just don’t work as well when it gets cold. 

Just like it’s better to disconnect the hose from the spigot at your house before it freezes, it’s really better to service your Subaru prior to it freezing outside. So there truly is no better time to service your Subaru for Winter then now.  It is so easy to become distracted these days and it is easy to let the little things slip, this just happens to be one of those times that skipping or delaying can leave you stranded or become expensive if not addressed.  

This includes;

*Checking and servicing as needed the engine oil. It is always best to start winter with fresh oil, consider changing it early if your due in December or January. There is no penalty for doing an extra oil change. 

Starting out Winter with fresh oil is a great idea.

*Testing the coolant freeze protection level.


Testing the coolant freeze protection level.

*Inspecting the condition of the coolant and cooling system. This should be changed every 2 years on a pre 2009 or every 5 years or so post 2009. 

Testing the Ph level in your Subaru’s Cooling system is a must

*Checking the tires for tread depth and proper air pressure. It is okay to delay a tire purchase in the Summer, but not so much in the Winter.

Make sure your tires have 4/32 or more of tread life during the winter months

*Testing the battery. 

This Subaru started fine this am for the customer, but still failed a battery test

Some other things to consider,

  • Checking the wipers for smearing, streaks or tears in the blade.
  • Inspecting and ensuring all of your Subaru’s lights work so you can be seen in the dark.
  • Inspecting the rest of your Subaru’s vital fluids.
  • Inspecting all rubber components including belts and hoses for age and wear.
  • Checking the wipers for smearing, streaks or tears in the blade.
  • If the headlamp lenses are hazy or discolored, this can affect nighttime visibility

Depending on how you will use your Subaru this Winter, here are some other things to consider.

  • Do you need snow tires or a set of chains? 
  • Are winter wiper blades a better option for you?
  • Should you use winter type windshield washer fluid such as 20/10
  • Do you have any long road trips planned to see family during the holiday season? If so consider, doing any pending service early.
  • If your Subaru has over 150k, is close to or more then 10 years old, have the hoses and radiator ever been replaced?

Items that seemed to work just fine yesterday, can quickly fail during or after a cold front rolls through, the most common things are weak batteries preventing your Subaru from starting and aged coolant hoses turning into a leak or worse an overheat situation. Understanding where your Subaru needs are ahead of winter is really the best way to get through it. We also see a lot of sticky electronic door locks and actuators. 

Keep in mind if you own a Subaru with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, it’s not uncommon to see the light come on during a cold morning, as the temperature drops, so does the tire pressure and it may need to be corrected.

Some tips for winter driving include;

  • Try to have have more than ½ a tank of gas this minimizes condensation in the fuel tank and helps rear traction as well. This is especially important with the ethanol used in the fuel around here.
  • Driving in the snow if your tires have less than 4/32 of tread life remaining is a bad idea, even if you have All Wheel Drive.
  • Before you shut your Subaru off for the night, first turn off your wipers and headlights.
  • When you start your Subaru up cold in the morning or after it’s sat for the day, say up at the pass, make sure your wipers are off and the lights are off prior to starting this is not only good for the battery but it also prevents the wipers from becoming damaged.
  • Make sure you have an emergency kit in the car especially if you are taking a road trip, this includes a blanket, water and a flashlight.
  • Deicer is a great thing to have around this time of year, not only can you use it to deice the window, it can help with frozen door locks and stubborn doors, keeping a can not in your Subaru is the best advice here.

If you own a newer model Subaru and you are looking for a tire chain alternative you might try the Auto Sock. 

If you are local to us you can schedule below to have us service your Subaru for winter.

I hope these tips are useful to you, and that your Subaru takes great care of you and your family this winter

Thanks for reading

-Justin Stobb

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