If you live in a place where you are fortunate enough to partake in the joys of a white Christmas, there is a chance you will also have to drive in the snow too. Winter can be a challenging season for drivers as driving in winter conditions requires extra caution and preparation. However, you can take some steps to make sure your car is ready for the cold weather. Here are some tips on how to prepare your car for winter:
Check your battery
Cold temperatures can reduce the performance and lifespan of your car battery, so make sure it is in good condition and fully charged. You can test your battery with a voltmeter or take it to a mechanic for inspection. If your battery is more than three years old, you may want to replace it before winter.
Inspect your tires
Tires are one of the most important safety features of your car, especially in winter. You should check the tire pressure, tread depth, and alignment regularly, and adjust them as needed. Most cars sold in places that seasonally get snow have all-weather tires. However, if you moved from a place like Florida to a place that routinely gets snow, check your tires to ensure they are not summer-only tires. Make sure to change them to all-weather tires, at a minimum, if they are not marked for mud and snow. You may also want to consider switching to winter tires, which have deeper treads and softer rubber that can grip better on snow and ice. You can tell what type of tires you have by looking on the sides of the tires.
Replace your wiper blades and fluid
Visibility is crucial when driving in winter, so you should make sure your windshield wipers and washer fluid are working properly. You should replace your wiper blades at least once a year, or more often if they are worn or damaged. You should also use washer fluid that has antifreeze properties to prevent it from freezing in the reservoir or on the windshield. It is a good practice to personally check your washer fluid levels routinely. Do not rely strictly on the complementary fluids top up you get during oil changes. Also, keeping some extra washer fluid in your garage or the trunk of your car could come in very handy when your car runs low on washer fluid.
Test your heater and defroster
You do not want to be stuck in a cold car with foggy windows, so you should test your heater and defroster before winter arrives. Make sure they are blowing hot air and clearing the windows effectively. If you notice any problems, take your car to a mechanic for repair.
Change your oil and filter
Check your owner’s manual for the recommended oil type and change interval for your car. Oil viscosity changes with temperature, so you may need to switch to a thinner oil that can flow better in cold weather. You should also replace your oil filter to prevent dirt and debris from clogging your engine.
Pack an emergency kit
Emergency kits could be potential lifesavers should you find yourself in an unexpected traffic jam in on the highway due to a snowstorm. Even if you follow all the tips above, you may still encounter an unexpected situation on the road, such as a breakdown, a flat tire, or getting stuck in the snow. That is why you should always have an emergency kit in your car. These kits should include items such as:
– A flashlight and batteries
– A blanket and warm clothes
– A first aid kit
– Jumper cables
– A shovel and sand or kitty litter
– A snow brush and ice scraper
– Food and water
– A phone charger
Prepare your car before you hit the road this winter; check your tires, battery, windshield wipers, lights, antifreeze, and brakes. Make sure you have enough gas and windshield washer fluid. Keep an emergency kit in your car with items like food, water, blankets, flashlight, scraper, jumper cables, and first aid supplies. By preparing your car for winter, you can reduce the risk of accidents and breakdowns, and enjoy a safer and more comfortable driving experience.
See our article on Time to Pop the Hood
See other links for more information on safe winter driving:
Winter Weather Driving Tips: Prepare Your Vehicle | NHTSA
Winter Driving – National Safety Council (nsc.org)
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