Winter is coming and in many parts it’s already reared it’s ugly, icy head. Slick roads and freezing temperatures can take a toll on your precious car. Luckily, you can protect your baby so winter won’t get the best of her.
Just like winterizing your house, you can winterize your car so that it’s better protected against harsh conditions. Here are steps you can take to guard your car against the cold:
Check the fluids
Cold weather impacts the performance of fluids in your car. Oil has a tendency to become thicker in cold weather, so you might have to change it to a thinner type of oil before the coldest weather hits. Your coolant should consist of half antifreeze and half water — you can find coolant testers at an auto parts store. Check the coolant filtration pumps, and replace if filters are dirty. Lastly, refill the windshield wiper fluid with liquid that freezes at lower temperatures. While you’re at it, replace worn wiper blades as well.
Examine the tires
If your tires haven’t been replaced in a while, the traction has likely worn down, which makes driving on icy roads even more unsafe. You can use a penny to test your tire treads. If needed, change to tires that are more durable and are made to handle snow and ice. If the traction looks good, make sure the tires are properly inflated by checking the air pressure.
Take it to the doctor
Have a mechanic look over your car to make sure everything is working properly in time for winter. He should check the battery for corrosion, and replace it if necessary. Have him examine all the belts and hoses to make sure they’re not worn down or damaged. Also have him check the four-wheel drive to make sure it turns on properly and that nothing needs to be replaced. Last but not least, get the heater and defroster checked out.
Practice safe driving
Maintaining your car won’t do any good if you drive recklessly in dangerous conditions. Be extra cautious when driving in winter, especially at night and during heavy snowfall or freezing rain. Take your time after it stops raining or snowing, as black ice can pose a problem even if roads look clear. Avoid distractions while driving — keep changing the radio or talking on your cellphone to a minimum, and never text and drive.
Prepare an emergency supply kit
Your car should be in good shape if you’ve crossed off this list, but emergencies do happen, and it’s best to be prepared for the worst. The winter emergency kit should include the following:
- Gloves, hat, scarf, coat (and other warm clothing items)
- Hand warmers
Include common car maintenance supplies as well:
- Ice scraper
- Tire-changing tools
- Jumper cables
- Cat litter (to create traction if you’re stuck in the snow)
- Owner’s manual
You should also have your car insurance’s roadside assistance number programmed in your cellphone, and make sure it’s charged before driving long distances.
When the end of fall is near, start winterizing your car so you’ll be one step ahead of harsh winter weather. If winter has already hit, it’s not too late to winterize your car.