The end of the year is near, and with it comes colder temperatures, snow and ice, and hazardous driving conditions. While it would be ideal if everyone could stay in their homes until winter has passed, this doesn’t happen. Thus, if you have to get out to go to work, get the kids to school or for any other reason, then you need to make winterizing your car a priority.
Getting your car ready for winter isn’t difficult, but it does take some time. However, spending the time to take care of this now could save you heartache in the future. Below are some tips to winterize your car for the cold months ahead.
1. Check Your Tires
When roads become icy and slick or packed with snow, you want to make sure that your car isn’t going to slide off the side. Checking your tires is the best way to ensure that doesn’t happen. Things you’ll need to check for include how much traction you have. If you notice bald spots or your traction is worn down, this could increase your chances of sliding on winter roads. To reduce your chances of this happening, you may need to get new tires.
If you are so inclined, you might also decide to put winter tires on your vehicle. Unlike summer or all-season tires, winter tires are made from special compounds so that they don’t become hard in freezing temperatures like rubber can.
When tires get hard, this makes it challenging for them to grip the road. Winter tires can also deal with the various conditions you might encounter on the road, including slush, snow, ice or dry pavement, and ensure that you have traction to get you where you are going.
You’ll also need to make sure that your tires have the right amount of pressure in them. Changes in the outdoor temperature could impact your tire pressure, so you’ll need to keep an eye on this throughout the winter months. You can check the inside of your car door to see the recommended amount of pressure for your tires, and then add air or let it out as necessary.
2. Check Your Washer Fluid
You’ll want to make sure that your washer fluid reservoir is full so that you have liquid to clear any dirt and debris from your windshield. With snow and slush on the road, these can easily coat your glass and leave behind filth that makes it hard to see. You may also want to change the washer fluid to one that has antifreeze added so that it doesn’t freeze if the temperatures get super cold.
3. Change Your Wiper Blades
In addition to checking and/or changing your washer fluid, you also want to make sure that you have the right blades on your car. There are special winter wiper blades that prevent ice from building up on the blades. This can be beneficial in helping you remove snow and ice so that you can see out the window as you drive down the road.
4. Get Your Car Serviced
Taking your car in for service is a great way to ensure that it is ready for winter. This process usually involves changing the oil, sometimes to a special winter blend to protect your engine in cold weather, checking the brakes to make sure they will stop your car on icy roads, and checking the battery. Cold weather can quickly and easily drain a battery, so making sure it’s in good condition and fully charged means it will start on cold winter days.
The mechanic will also check the wires, spark plugs, hoses and belts to ensure they are in good working order. If any of these break or wear out, this could leave you stranded on the side of the road. Taking care of this issue now is the best way to ensure that you will make it to your destination when driving in winter.
In addition to checking all of these elements in your car, now is also a good time to make sure your heater is working properly. You don’t want to find out the hard way that it’s not putting out hot air, so getting this checked while the mechanic is working on the rest of your car will be in your best interest.
5. Add an Emergency Kit
Anything can happen on winter roads, so you want to make sure you are prepared. Placing an emergency kit in your car with help with that endeavor. Things that you’ll want to put in the kit include the following:
• Jumper cables
• First aid kit
• Ice Scraper
• Non-perishable food and water
• Bag of sand or kitty litter
• Blankets or emergency blanket
• Cell phone charger
• Tool kit
Any of these items may come in handy should your car break down or if you get into an accident.
6. Brush Up on Your Winter Driving Skills
One of the best ways to make sure your car is winterized is to brush up on your driving skills. This means slowing down on snow-covered or icy roads and giving yourself plenty of time and space to stop. It also means being wary and keeping an eye on other drivers so that you can react appropriately if they lose control. You should also refresh your memory on what you need to do if you start sliding on the road.
Driving in winter can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By getting your car ready for the colder weather and brushing up on your winter driving skills, you should be able to make it through the next few months with very few or no issues.