The cold weather is now upon us and that means it’s time to winterize your car. Taking the time to make a few basic adjustments to your vehicle could mean easier and safer travel for you during the Winter season. Check out these nine tips:
Check Your Battery
When its cold outside, your engine requires more current from the battery in order to get the engine started. Make sure your battery is clean and hasn’t corroded, and connections are secure. If your battery is old, consider getting it tested and possibly replaced before the weather gets nasty.
Change Your Oil
The colder it is outside, the thicker the oil in your car will get. Thick oil won’t circulate through your engine as easily as thin oil, and won’t lubricate properly. This can affect your car’s start-up. Prevent this problem by changing your oil. Find out what thickness or thinness of oil (viscosity) is needed by checking the owner’s manual for your car.
Refill Wiper Fluid and Change Wiper Blades
Winter weather can dump a lot of precipitation on your windshield, which can reduce your visibility on the road. Make sure that your wiper fluid reservoir is full and you have extra fluid in your car in case it runs dry. If temperatures drop to freezing in your area, purchase wiper fluid that has antifreeze properties. Wiper blades can crack or fray over time, leading to squeaking and poor performance. Change them if they start to wear down. Consider buying winter-ready wiper blades if you live in an area with hard winters.
Check Tire Pressure
Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop. A properly inflated tire ensures safe traction when driving in winter conditions. Find the recommended air pressure for your vehicle model on the tire or in your vehicle manual, and check your tires periodically to ensure they are at the correct pressure levels. If they get low, make sure to fill them at a gas station. You can also invest in an air compressor to store in your car.
Check Your Coolant
It’s important to make sure you change your coolant every few years to keep it fresh and effective. Antifreeze is important in the winter because it prevents your engine from freezing up. The mixture of antifreeze and water in your radiator should be 50/50. To check the composition of your radiator’s fluid, take your car in for a coolant test or pick-up an anti-freeze tester at an auto parts store.
Check Your Engine Belts and Hoses
Winter temperatures can weaken belts and hoses. If a belt snaps on the road you could be stranded. Check the engine belts and hoses in your car to make sure they aren’t disconnected, brittle or damaged, and replace if needed.
Keep Winter Tools in Your Car
Make sure you keep a few items in your car to help you deal with snow and ice. Essential tools include an ice scraper and a snow brush. A shovel is also a good item to have on hand for clearing paths and freeing tires from the elements. Cat litter is helpful for improving traction on the ground, should your car get stuck.
Consider Buying Winter Tires
Snow tires will give your car extra traction for icy roads. Consider replacing your regular tires with snow tires if you live in an area that gets hit hard by snow.
Stash a Survival Bag in Your Car
Snowstorms can happen unexpectedly. It’s a good idea to be prepared for the possibility of being stranded. Pack your car with these emergency supplies – first aid kit, water, food, flashlight, a portable charger for your phone, batteries, battery-operated radio, road flares, warn clothes and blankets.