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The Ultimate Guide for Preparing Your Jeep for Winter

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

a Jeep Wrangler going off-road in the snow

Winter is coming, which means you need to prepare for your outdoor adventure plans this season! Whether you’re planning to take winter off-road trails or just want to have a safe drive on snow-filled streets, it’s essential to ensure your Jeep is ready for the winter season. We’ve created a seven-point checklist to winterize your Jeep. Read on to find out more.

Check your fluid levels.

If you plan to spend long periods in cold areas during winter, we recommend changing your engine oil with a fresh batch. Cold temperatures can affect the viscosity of the oil, causing it to be thicker on cold starts and putting more stress on your engine during startup. Ensure you are allowing your vehicle to reach operating temperatures before driving off in order to preserve the longevity of your Jeep. Consult with your dealer or trusted independent service provider on whether or not you would benefit from using a winter specific oil to maintain your Jeep in the cold.

Test your battery.

Like any preparation for long drives, you should always check the battery of your ride before going enduring below freezing temperatures. Your battery creates a chemical reaction that generates electrons for supplying power to various components of your ride. Lower temperatures slow down this process and make the battery less efficient. At 32°F (0°C), car batteries lose around 35% of their strength, while temperatures as low as 0°F (-18°C) cause them to lose more than half of their power.

Moreover, your engine works harder to start in the winter because of the effects on oil viscosity as mentioned above, resulting in more resistance to cranking.

Get some snow tires.

One of the most vital winter upgrades is snow tires. It’s best to equip your vehicle with wheels that can dig into snowy roads and give your ride the proper traction it needs. These off-road tires are also suited for traversing wet and dry cold roads without much issue.

Winter tires have a deeper tread pattern for better braking and traction while on snow. Moreover, they are made of a rubber compound that remains soft and flexible even at cold temperatures. If you have a Rubicon, your tire tread may already be well suited for the snowy conditions, however the Sport, Sahara, and High Altitude models typically come with a tread pattern less conducive to winter traction, so consider picking up a dedicated set of snow tires if you own one of these trim levels.

Pro tip: Remember to switch out your winter wheels just before the season changes because their soft materials will wear out faster during warmer climates.

Inspect seals and exposed rubberized components.

The rubber bushings, seals, and other related components of your ride are more prone to wear and tear during winter and cold climates. The cold temperature causes them to become brittle and may eventually crack over time.

We recommend inspecting the belts, boots, hoses, and other elastic parts of your ride. Scan the length of the belt for any cracking, especially in areas where it turns over a pulley. You should also pay close attention to any torn strands on its edges as they can indicate the need for a replacement.

The texture of boots and hoses is soft and flexible and should return to its original form when squeezed. Check for any leaks and immediately replace damages to avoid complications on the road. You can also upgrade to a silicone hose for improved durability and pressure tolerance.

Store your Jeep’s roof.

Did you make the most of summer and have off-road adventures with a topless setup or a soft top? The beauty of owning a Jeep is that you can drive it around without a roof and have a soft or hard top assembly.

But are Jeep soft tops good in winter, or is a hard top a better option?

Before winter hits, the consensus is to switch to a hard top for better insulation from the cold weather. It also is a more robust defense against the weight of snow and ice accumulation. You can store your soft top in a climate-controlled facility to protect it from inclement weather changes and other elements. This way, you can enjoy winter without worrying about your soft top roof getting damaged.

However, if you decide to keep your Jeep soft top in winter, we recommend doing some maintenance to ensure it is in good condition. Thoroughly inspect the zipper and the top fabric for any damage, as these can cause cold air and precipitation to enter your vehicle.

Pro tip: Do not unzip windows or remove your soft top, as these components have become brittle due to cold temperatures. Doing so can cause damage and make it difficult to put them back up.

Maintain your heating system.

Jeeps aren’t as insulated as other rides, regardless of whether you have a hardtop or soft top. The interior can get chilly fairly quickly due to the modular hardtop system. Fortunately, they have a very effective heating system that can warm the cabin interior and keep you and your passengers comfortable during winter drives.

Inspect the defroster and heating operation of your HVAC to see if they are functioning properly. If you feel lukewarm air from your ventilation, it could be due to a clogged heater core. However, if it blows out completely cold air, you may need to bring your Jeep to the mechanic for a quick fix.

Take care of your windshield and wiper blades.

Inspecting your vehicle windshield is straightforward — all you need to look for are cracks that compromise its surface. Don’t just pay attention to large nicks, but also tiny chips that could lead to bigger damage. While these are small, it only takes a quick change in temperature or slight pressure for the crack to spread rapidly.

There are other preventive measures to maintain your windshield and its wiper blades. For instance, whenever you park your Jeep, pull the blades away to prevent ice buildup and sticking to the glass surface. You can also cover them with old tube socks to protect them from snow and freezing rain.

When a layer of snow has accumulated on your windshield, do not use your wipers to remove them. Instead, use your handy ice scraper or turn on your Jeep’s defroster to melt the ice. Avoid scraping aggressively, as it can cause severe damage. Moreover, use a pin to unclog windshield washer nozzles that have frozen.

Get Your Jeep Ready for Your Winter Adventures

You’re all set for your plans this winter. Keep your Jeep in its best condition even in cold temperatures to prevent excess wear and tear as the season’s change. Be prepared for slippery roads, poor visibility during snowstorms, and staying aware of changing road conditions. While these circumstances cannot be totally avoided, you can always be prepared for what’s to come to ensure a safe journey ahead.

Visit the Joiiio blog for more information on preparing your Jeep for the changing seasons.

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