With winter already making its presence felt in parts of the U.S., it’s not too late to get your car ready for the cold months to come. We don’t always give our cars as much thought as we should until temperatures plunge to arctic levels or our neighborhood gets buried by an unusually heavy snow storm.
One of the first things you probably should have done was wash and wax your vehicle prior to the freezing weather and falling snow. If you didn’t do it – don’t feel bad – you’re not alone. For future reference and ahead of next year’s winter, you’ll want to clean both the inside and outside of your vehicle. The reason for doing so is:
• A completely washed and waxed car’s paint is protected from the elements.
• It makes snow and ice easier to brush off.
Worn tires significantly increase your chances of having an accident – by making it more difficult to stop in time due to deteriorating road conditions. Not only are you more susceptible to rear-ending the car in front of you, but it can also lead to losing control on slick pavement and driving off the road. Check your tires for excessive wear and replace them as soon as possible.
Your battery and electrical system
Cold weather puts enormous stress on your vehicle’s battery and electrical system. Driving with accessories, such as headlights, defrosters, windshield wipers, and heater on all at the same time can drain your battery fairly quickly, if your electrical system isn’t recharging it properly.
That’s why having your battery tested for maximum cranking power as well as the electrical system for damaged wires and the ability to recharge your battery efficiently is so important – even after the first snow.
Be sure to also check your headlights, taillights, back up lights, and signal lights (including your emergency hazards) with a visual inspection.
Coolant and other vital fluids
While we tend to pay more attention to cooling system levels in the summer, checking them in the winter is just as smart. Incorrectly mixed coolant can result in a frozen radiator or engine damage. Check for cracked hoses and leaks. It only takes a couple of minutes and can save you big time.
Your local dealership or mechanic can give your car a more in depth fluid check, including engine, transmission, differential, power steering and brakes.
Often neglected until they fall apart, your windshield wiper blades are a major part of maintaining proper visibility during the dark evening hours and blinding snowstorms.
• Be sure your wipers are functioning properly and wipe clean across the windshield.
• Maintain an ample supply of winter washer fluid with a de-icer agent at all times.
• Replace worn wiper blades immediately with those specially designed for winter.
Prepare for the unexpected. While your car may be in good shape for the winter months and you’ve done everything you can think of to get it ready for the harsh temperatures and conditions, don’t forget to pack a few essentials – just in case.
• A set of tire chains, a collapsible shovel, a well-stocked emergency first aid kit and a set of jumper cables.
• A blanket, a flashlight, flares, candles and a lighter.
What did you do to get your car ready for the winter months? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.