[originally published December 2003]

Preparing your Rover for winter

As we move into winter we must think about getting our Rovers ready for the cold, snow, and salt. I’ve set down a few tips from my years as a Land Rover service manager…


The two fluids that can freeze are your radiator and your washer fluid tank. Make sure both are filled with the right mixture of antifreeze. Your engine should have a 50-50 mix of traditional green antifreeze or the orange Dex-cool stuff depending upon year and model. I suggest you not change coolant types — stick with whatever your truck was made with.

Your windshield washer tank should be filled with windshield cleaner that has antifreeze for at least -20. If you are unsure get some of the windshield wash concentrate sold by Prestone or others and add that to your tank. Do not put engine coolant into the windshield wash tank!

Although they won’t freeze, the oils in your truck will get thick on cold nights, and you can have problems there also. A Rover with 20-50W or 40W oil in the engine is probably not going to start in the dead of winter at Stowe. A smart choice would be changing to 5-30 or 10-30 synthetics. We use Mobil 1, but there are several other good brands — Castrol Syntec and Amzoil to name two. If you change to synthetic oil your truck will start easier on cold weather, it will warm up faster, and you will experience less engine wear.

This morning at our shop it was 15 degrees. Outside, we had two trucks that did not run — one with regular 90 weight gear oil, and one with Mobil 1 synthetic gear lube. Five of us struggled to push the first truck up the slight grade into the shop. A short while later, three of us easily pushed the second truck inside. The difference in rolling resistance was remarkable. That’s a good reason to put synthetic fluid in your differentials and transfer case. The improved low temperature flow characteristics of synthetics will give you better warm-up behavior and better gas mileage.


Carmakers today advise you to start your car and drive off with no warmup. They do this because they are under pressure from the Federal government to reduce warmup exhaust emissions. I do not believe this strategy benefits your car. Everything in the car benefits from warming up. Don’t turn the heater blower on high until it’s run a minute on low to get the lubricant flowing — ever wonder why blower motors fail most often in winter? That's why!

Land Rovers made from 1996 to 1999 may set a check engine code if left to warm up too long on a very cold day. Land Rover has an updated chip for the ECU to address that problem.


Before driving off always flip your wiper arms away from the glass to make sure they are not frozen tight. If you turn on the wipers too often when they are frozen to the glass you’'ll be spending $500 on a new wiper motor and linkage. Avoid this by simply making sure they are free.

Also on the subject of batteries — make sure you have good blades on the truck, and don't forget the rear window wiper. Make sure your washer nozzles are clear — if they are clogged you can clean them using strands of fine copper wire.

Doors and door locks

The lubricant in the door locks gets very stiff in cold weather. One consequence of this is that it’s easy to snap the key off in the door lock. For that reason I urge you to use the pushbutton locking and make sure your door latches and hinges are kept lubed with light penetrating oil. Also — don’t forget to spray the rubber door seals with silicone to keep them from freezing and ripping in cold icy weather.


Modern batteries tend to fail all of a sudden. When we were younger we became accustomed to batteries that got weak, giving us warning of their impending demise. That does not usually happen today. The life expectancy of a modern battery is 3-4 years. If your battery is more than three years old I suggest you replace it before you find yourself stranded.