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Winter Driving Tips

What can I do to get maximum performance from my vehicle during cold weather?


Vehicles are designed to operate in a variety of temperatures. If you reside in a cold area the following general tips may help to increase performance. For items specific to your vehicle please refer to the Starting and Driving, Winter Driving Tips section of your Owner's Manual.

Try to keep the vehicle garaged.
Even an unheated garage will usually retain some of the heat given off by the vehicle after it has been driven and parked inside.

Consider using a block heater when the vehicle is parked.
This optional device is installed in the engine block and can be plugged into a wall socket. It has a small heating element that prevents the engine from getting very cold (the engine may not feel warm to the touch). Block heaters may be available through your local dealership.

Make sure you have the proper freeze protection and engine coolant.
Your coolant must contain ethylene-glycol type coolant for the proper corrosion protection of aluminum components. Use "Auto Makers Genuine Long Life Coolant" or equivalent.

NOTE: Do not use alcohol type antifreeze or plain water alone.

When it is extremely cold, we recommend using 60% solution for your Toyota, to provide protection down to about -50°C (-58°F). Do not use more than 70% solution for better coolant performance.

Check the condition of the battery and cables.
Cold temperatures reduce the capacity of any battery, so it must be in top shape to provide enough power for winter starting. Your local dealership and most service stations will be pleased to check the level of charge.

In extremely low temperatures, check the charge more frequently if driving repeated short trips. Shorter trips may not allow sufficient time for the alternator to recharge the battery.

Make sure the engine oil viscosity is suitable for the cold weather.
Leaving heavy summer oil in your vehicle during winter months may cause harder starting.

SAE 5W-30 is the best choice for your vehicle, for good fuel economy, and good starting in cold weather. If you use SAE 10W-30 engine oil in extremely low temperatures, the engine may become difficult to start.

If you are not sure about which oil to use, contact your local dealership.

Keep the door locks from freezing.
Squirt lock de-icer or glycerine into the locks to keep them from freezing. To open a frozen lock, try heating the key before inserting it.

Use a washer fluid containing an anti-freeze solution.
This product is available at your local dealership and most auto parts stores. Follow the manufacturer's directions for how much to mix with water.

NOTE: Do not use engine antifreeze or any other substitute because it may damage your vehicle's paint.

Do not use your parking brake when there is a possibility it could freeze.
When parking, put the transmission into "P" (automatic) or into first or reverse (manual) and block the front wheels. Do not use the parking brake, or snow or water accumulated in and around the parking brake mechanism may freeze, making it hard to release.

Keep ice and snow from accumulating under the fenders.
Ice and snow built up under your fenders can make steering difficult. During bad winter driving, stop and check under the fenders occasionally.

Use the air conditioning to help decrease humidity levels and moisture evaporation that cause window fogging.
For maximum effectiveness, airflow should be directed toward the windshield by turning the airflow selector to the floor/windshield position. This position turns on the defogging function with the purpose of clearing the front view.

This position allows the air intake to select the fresh air or air conditioning automatically to help clear the front view more quickly. The temperature should be set to warm.

Depending on where you are driving, we recommend you carry some emergency equipment.
Some of the things you might put in the vehicle are:

  • tire chains
  • window scraper
  • bag of sand or salt
  • flares
  • small shovel
  • jumper cables

Please refer to your Owner's Manual for additional information regarding coolant type, battery inspection, and oil viscosity.


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