Getting Your Car Ready for Winter
Ready, set, winter!
It’s time to gear up!
It’s that time of year when temperatures drop and preparations get under way for old man winter! It’s not just your home or wardrobe that needs readied, but the preparation holds true for your vehicle. No matter the age or make, it must undergo a list of checks and maintenance to ensure that it is prepared and ready for both the winter roads and winter temps. The means to be winter ready is simple, so get set and gear up!
Can you see? It’s time to check!
Among the first things that must be checked when winter approaches are your windshield wiper blades and washer fluid. There is nothing worse than a frost or ice-covered window coupled with faulty blades that won’t get the job done. Before the temps drop, invest in new ones if you are due and fill your windshield washer fluid. It is also important to check and see if your heater and defroster are working properly so the windshield can be clear at all times!
Quick battery check
The onset of winter is the ideal time to make sure your battery is in top condition. Not only is it vital to check if your battery’s posts and connections are free of corrosion but also that it has all the water it needs. If the battery in your vehicle is more than 3 years old, now is the time to have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge.
Maybe it’s time!
Maybe it’s time to consider switching to snow tires, the benefits of which are made crystal clear the next time you are driving in the snow. Snow tires work to improve traction and are a much better choice than the usual all-season tires, especially on those hilly terrains packed with snow. Shop around and get the best price, but also consider the costs for mounting and balancing. It is also important to examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing or cupping. Tire pressure should also be checked once a month. It is important to check your spare and make sure the jack is in good working condition. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excess gasoline.
For those vehicles with four-wheel-drive, it is important to check the status of it and to make sure it is working properly, especially because most drivers do not use it in the summer months. Checking the system involves ensuring that it engages and disengages with ease as well as making sure all the drivers in your household know how and when to properly activate the system.
Emergency kit — check!
Just like you would in your home, a proper emergency kit is especially important to have on hand in the winter. This kit should be kept in your trunk, especially if a road trip is on your winter agenda! Helpful items to include in the kit are the following: a blanket, extra boots and gloves, extra set of warm clothes, extra water and food, an ice scraper, small shovel, flashlight, flares, a tool kit, tire chains, jumper cables, windshield wipers, a spare tire with air in it, a tire gauge, tire-changing equipment, First Aid kit and paper towels. Another emergency item can include a bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter) that could provide the necessary and additional traction needed if a tire gets stuck in the snow. It is also important to have a full gas tank at all times!
Tune it up!
A basic tune-up, in addition to an oil change, should definitely be on the to-do list heading into winter. Cars should be tuned-up roughly every 3,000 miles, so if that marker falls in the middle of winter, it may be best to get it done now to make sure all is in good shape. This tune-up should give a once over look to belts and hoses, ignition, brakes, wiring, fan belts, spark plugs, air, fuel and emission filters and the PCV valve.
An oil change is always an important aspect of your car’s maintenance, but even more so come winter! Whether you need to change the type of oil you use altogether may be something you should look to a mechanic to determine. Also, check your owner’s manual to find out what viscosity you should be using in freezing temperatures. Generally, a thinner oil is needed in winter.
Fill ‘er up!
One very important practice to keep in mind heading into winter is to keep your gas tank filled. That is because letting your gas tank get to empty in winter can cause major problems. Cold weather can cause condensation to form in an empty or near empty gas tank. The result is that water can drip down into the gas and sink to the bottom, where it can then travel into your fuel lines. Frozen fuel lines and a blockage of the flow of gas to the engine is a scenario you don’t want to face! To remedy that and to stay safe, keep your tank at least a quarter or half way full at all times! Also, as temps drop below freezing, add a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once. month to keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line.
While it may seem unnecessary, getting your vehicle detailed — especially if you are concerned about the paint — may be something to consider and add to the list heading into winter. A car wax that coats the body panels will serve to protect the paint from snow and salt damage.
Planning ahead and readying your car for winter makes perfect sense and once all of your check-list is complete, you will have peace of mind when navigating snow and ice-covered roads. Keep in mind that some of these tips can even be life-saving, so gear up and have your vehicle prepared as winter is just around the corner!