Early autumn is the best time to get your car ready for winter, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow. It takes just a few hours to prepare for the worst possible conditions your area experiences, and it may save your life.
1. Get the car inspected and get necessary services done.
Have any car issues resolved before winter. Make sure to get any necessary work or services, such as oil changes, tune-ups and repairs, you’ve been putting off.
2. Check the battery and charging system.
Have your battery tested to make sure it’s performing optimally and can hold a charge. While you’re at it, have your alternator tested as well.
3. Replace your windshield wipers and use winter wiper fluid.
You should generally replace your windshield wipers every 6-12 months. If your wipers aren’t wiping water away smoothly, replace them. It’s extremely important that you are able to see when it snows. Use winter wiper fluid. Regular fluid may freeze if temperatures drop low enough.
4. Check your heater, thermostat, and defroster to make sure they work.
5. Have your radiator and cooling system checked.
Get it cleaned, flushed, and replace the antifreeze. Your antifreeze to water ratio will need to be adjusted to make up for the winter temperatures. Experts advise a 60 to 40 antifreeze-to-water ratio, but you should follow the indications for your car.
6. Check the exhaust pipe for leaks.
Keep it clear of anything that could block the release of fumes. Carbon monoxide fumes that enter your car can become fatal quickly.
7. Make sure your all your lights are working —
head lights, fog lights, tail lights, and hazard lights. Replace any dead light bulbs and fuses.
8. Get snow/winter tires.
Winter tires are made of a rubber compound that operates better at lower temperatures than everyday tires. The tires are more pliable which makes braking easier. The tread is deeper and wider which creates better traction. If you can afford it, get all four tires. If you can only afford two, put them on the wheels that are powered by the engine. Make sure your tires are always properly and sufficiently inflated.
9. Get the brakes checked and replaced if needed.
It takes longer for your car to stop when there’s snow on the ground which increases your braking distance. Worn brakes increase the braking time and may prevent you from braking altogether. Make sure you’ve got fresh fluid and the brakes are bled properly.
10. Keep your gas tank at least half full.
Anything less can lead to condensation forming, which may lead to freezing and prevents the engine from running well.
11. Keep your car sheltered.
If you can’t keep it in a garage, get a car cover. It reduces corrosion and may keep your locks from freezing up.
12. Pack an emergency car kit.
Make sure you have essentials such as water, a charged cell phone and charger, and a warm blanket. I put together a great list of what items to pack in your emergency car kit.
These are general guidelines. You should always look into any variations in car maintenance that are specific to your car. Your goal is to make your car as safe as possible.
For more car tips follow Shifting in Stilettos on Facebook.
How to Prepare Your Car for Winter – U.S. News
How to Prepare a Car for Winter Driving – wikiHow