Is Your Car Ready For The Winter Season? 5 Things To Check
Winter can be a particularly tricky time for America’s drivers. Even if snow and ice begin to take over, most people can’t simply stay at home until the roads thaw. They have to get out and about no matter what Mother Nature has in store. Understanding how to drive in snow and ice is essential for staying safe on the roadways, but it’s only part of the picture. Being sure your vehicle is ready for winter is also crucial. If it’s not, you could find yourself facing unexpected problems.
Five Critical Checkpoints for Winter Driving
Before winter tightens its grip on the nation, experts recommend having an emergency kit stowed in the trunk of your vehicle in case things take a turn for the worse. At the very least, this should include first-aid items, a flashlight, extra batteries, flares, DOT-approved reflective safety triangles, and tools. If you live in an area where ice and snow are common during the winter, keeping a shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, extra wiper blades, and spare winter clothing in the trunk is advisable as well.
If your vehicles have any body damage around doors or windows, consider having it fixed at a collision repair shop so excess cold air can’t work its way inside. This measure will certainly keep you warmer and may even help save your life if you’re ever stranded in sub-freezing temperatures. From there, consider these five basic necessities.
1) Have the Oil Changed
Vehicle owners should generally schedule an oil change about every 5,000 miles or so, though this varies by model and manufacturer. That said, getting a vehicle ready for winter also means changing the type of oil.Engine oil is supposed to lubricate and protect the motor’s internal parts, but it can become too thick to work properly when temperatures drop. Before winter takes hold, it’s important to switch to a less-viscous type of oil.
2) Examine the Tires
Check the tires to ensure they’re in good shape and have plenty of tread. Be sure the tire pressure matches the recommendations in the owner’s manual as well.Air pressure decreases when it’s cold, so you may need to add air to your tires. Switching over to winter tires is best in some areas. Don’t overlook the spare tire in the midst of all these measures.
3) Check the Battery
Having a strong, reliable battery is particularly crucial during the winter months. Cold can reduce a battery’s charge, and starting a car in the wintertime is particularly draining. Be sure the battery holds a charge well. If you have a maintainable battery as opposed to a self-maintaining one, keep a constant watch over its water levels and refill as needed.
4) Add Antifreeze
Running only water in a vehicle’s cooling system is fine during warmer weather. When the temperatures drop, though, you need to be sure the coolant mixture consists of at least 50 percent antifreeze. You can have the ratio checked professionally or purchase a testing kit at any auto parts store.
5) Check the Wipers and Washer Fluid
Wiping loads of snow off a windshield and battling layers of ice take a toll on windshield wipers. If the ones already on the vehicle are old and worn, they won’t hold up to the strain of winter. Make sure the wipers are free of cracks and other damage, and replace them if necessary. If you’ve been using standard washer fluid, replace it with a version that can withstand subfreezing temperatures. Consider choosing one with deicer to help clear frozen windshields.
All Things Considered
Being sure your vehicle is ready for cold weather will reduce the likelihood of accidents and numerous other problems, like engine and tire damage and having to constantly recharge the battery. It’ll also go a long way toward ensuring you don’t get stranded in potentially dangerous weather. You can cover this checklist on your own or visit your mechanic for professional assistance.