As the seasons change, motorists must take steps to get their vehicles ready for winter. You need to trust your vehicle to get your family and friends safely from place to place through harsh freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, salt, and icy roads. These conditions can take their toll on your vehicle over time, but by taking steps now to prepare your vehicles for winter weather can make cars and trucks safer for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Here are a few suggestions to get your vehicle winter ready:
- Check your battery: Without a strong, properly functioning battery, engines cannot turn over in cold conditions. Batteries can be protected by starting the vehicle each day,causing the battery to recharge. Let the car run for at least ten minutes if you cannot take an extended drive. Inspect your battery’s posts and connections to ensure that are corrosion-free. Battery cables need to be in good shape and firmly attached to the battery terminals. If your battery is more than three years old, have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge.
- Tires: Your winter tires can go on as soon as temperatures hit 7 C. Winter tires use a softer rubber compound that helps them grip cold or icy pavement, and they do a better job than all-season tires any time the temperature drops below 7C. Their more aggressive tread also channels away slush and snow to help prevent sliding.
- Tire Pressure: Get your vehicle ready for winter by inflating tires properly to ensure you’ll have the best possible traction as you drive. According to many automotive experts, vehicle tires lose a pound of air pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Consult with your owner’s manual to tell you what your target tire pressure should be. Don’t forget to check the pressure in your spare tire. The last thing you want is to have a flat and no spare tire to use as a replacement!
- Wipers: Visibility is very important when driving in hazardous weather conditions, so keeping the windshield clean is a priority. Replace your blades any time they’re cracked or torn, if they don’t clear the glass completely, or if they bump or chatter, as the rubber eventually gets hard from exposure to sun and weather. Another good tip is to simply get into the habit replacing existing wiper blades at the onset of each winter season.
- Windshield Wiper Fluid: Fill up your windshield washer reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Use winter grade windshield wiper fluid to resist freezing and to clean away winter grime such as road salt. Always carry a spare jug so you don’t run out
- Fluids: Check, change or top up all fluids. This includes everything from engine coolant and oil to windshield washer fluid and gas.
- Gasoline: You should always have at least half a tank of gas in the winter because you could be idling longer in traffic jams or on a deserted road trying warm up with the engine running intermittently. Having a full tank also prevents condensation in your gas tank and lines which can be excessive with winter temperatures. Condensation in the system can lead to fuel-line freeze-up and can prevent your car from starting.
- Emergency kit:It can take a while before help arrives in a bad snowstorm. Keep an emergency kit with you which contains a blanket, candles, matches, energy snacks, kitty litter or traction mats, windshield washer fluid, flashlight, booster cables, and a folding shovel.
- Use the right oil: Oil needs to flow quickly through your engine when you start it, to prevent wear and damage. Oil that isn’t formulated for winter conditions can thicken in cold temperatures. Have your oil changed to low-viscosity oil which flows rapidly to provide protection. Since it reduces friction, it can also help improve fuel economy. Changing your oil as recommended in all seasons will keep your engine clean and help it last longer.
- Examine belts and hoses: When you have service done on your vehicle have the mechanic check belts and hoses for wear and tear. Cold weather can do a number on belts and hoses, so they deserve attention.
Winter driving can be a challenge, but by taking some extra time to prepare yourself and getting your vehicle ready for winter driving you’ll increase the chances of keeping you and your family safe.
If you have any other tips you would like to share feel free to do so.