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Old 10-29-2008, 12:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to Winterize Your Car EcoModder Style

With winter fast approaching we're seeing our MPG drop off. This is normal. You will get lower mileage in winter, its just physics. However, there are a few things you can do to fight it. Here are my winterization list. It includes ecomods and general winterization tips.


Use a block heater.
In colder weather it takes even longer for your engine to warm up. A block heater can totally negate this penalty of winter. It also gets you heat a heck of a lot sooner! Put it on a timer to reduce electricity useage.


Install or beef up your grill block.
Last winter I ran my Matrix with a FULL grill block. The upper and lower grills were both completely blocked off and I never had any problems with coolant temps spiking at all. Depending on your climate, you might be able to do the same. The more you can block off the faster your warm up times will be and the more aerodynamic your vehicle becomes.


Use thinner oil if possible.
Some manufacturers specify thinner oil to be used at colder temperatures. Check your manual to see if you can run thinner oil. This will help your car start easier in the cold and reduce power losses to friction in the engine especially during warm up.


Use an 110V AC heater to preheat your cabin.
If you like jumping into a warmed up car, don't go out and idle your car or use a remote start. A better way is to go pickup a small space heater. Plug it in 10 minutes before you go to get into a nice warm car. If you don't even want to go out into the cold, I saw some remote plug units the other day at the store for turning on Christmas lights. Warm your car from the comfort of your home without using gas!


Get those snow tires on.
If you live in an especially snowy area, winter tires can literally be a life saver. Last year was the first year I've used snow tires, and I was very happy I put them on. My wife drives around a lot for her job, so its good to know she can get around better than before.

However, you will take a hit in rolling resistance when going to a snow tire. They are generally made from a softer rubber that will increase rolling resistance. Add that to the fact that they're made to grip in snow and you have a tire that isn't the most MPG friendly. So, this is your call. Just make sure to be safe out there.


Adjust tire pressure.
Again, this will be your call. Higher tire pressure is pretty much great for spring through fall. Its downside is definitly winter though. A hard tire is not going to mold well to an uneven surface like a snow covered road. So, it is advisable to think about decreasing tire pressure in the winter. You don't have to lower it a ton, just find a pressure you are comfortable with.


What do you guys do to prepare for winter?

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Old 10-29-2008, 01:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Excellent post, Daox.
Got my block heater ordered, but it's back ordered.
Upper grille block installed.
Wasn't thinking lower grille block until now. Hmmm.
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Any advice for dealing with frost?
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
What do you guys do to prepare for winter?
Dig out the cross-country ski wax, and the dog's skijoring harness :-) And make sure I've got my firewood in. Don't do much to the car: I keep the radiator blocks (just pieces of coroplast) handy for those long downhill runs from 8500 ft. Even in summer, the coolant temp will drop to under 140 F without one. And in fall temps, it takes at least 10 miles of driving on the level at 55+ to get up to full operating temp.
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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On the subject of block heaters, what types are effective and what aren't? The one Honda supplies is kinda strange, and I know there's also one that fits into a freeze plug. Either way, I'm not too thrilled about the idea of draining the coolant.
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Old 10-29-2008, 03:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Fitted (jammed in, friction fit!!) a warm/hot air intake: temp needle comes up to temp in 2 to 3 minutes. In 0c air i was getting 15c air to the intake this morning.
Am going to fit a door to block off the radiator completely but be remotely activated from the cabin. I mentioned this before here but never got around to it...
Also going to seal up gaps around headlights etc. to keep engine bay air warm.
This weekend hopefully....

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Old 10-29-2008, 08:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The traditional Winter setup:
  • Move the intake source to warmer air from the exhaust manifold
  • Additional/lengthened use of the EBH
  • Rad block + possible partial undertray
  • Change the transmission fluid (transitioning to synth)
  • I leave the tire pressure the same @ 50 PSI (only problem has been black ice -- but what tire can handle that?)
  • Warmer clothing to allow full operating temp before heater demand (touchy TC lockup based on temps)

I may have to add a new batt to the list...

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Old 10-29-2008, 11:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I've been meaning to put a squeegee in my car...

So it doesn't exactly freeze in Central Florida... But the every morning there's a heavy coat of condensation from the temperature change and humidity... Use to wipe the rear glass so the defroster isn't needed. More convenience than anything

I also put, as girlie as it sounds, cozies on my bike's brake levers - because it's a terrible feeling to squeeze icy cold aluminum in the morning. I'm also knitting a cycling scarf - I really don't like riding in the cold, but if I can keep the wind off, it's nice
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaleMelanesian View Post
Any advice for dealing with frost?
You mean on the outside of the glass? A blanket/cardboard/something on the windshield is a common trick I see used.

I'll second going to synthetic lubricants all around for anyone living in a cold winter climate.
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trebuchet03 View Post
cozies on my bike's brake levers - because it's a terrible feeling to squeeze icy cold aluminum in the morning.
Aren't cozies on your fingers - eg. mitties or gloves - easier to do?

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