Thursday, November 12, 2015

Preparing Your Car for Winter Driving

Preparing your car for winter is the best way to prepare yourself for the challenges of winter driving. From your car not wanting to start on a frigid morning, to lacking the traction you need to maintain control on the road, you can find yourself even more frustrated if you're not taking the extra steps to help you get your vehicle ready for the winter.

Tips for Preparing Your Car for Winter

There are several ways you can prepare according to the Car Care Council, a consumer education program that encourages car owners to "Be Car Care Aware."

  1. Check your battery. Cold weather is not a friend of your battery, so make sure that you have your battery and charging system checked and ready to go before the temperature dips.
  2. Make sure your cooling system is filled with antifreeze. Every two years, you should also have the system flushed out and refilled with new antifreeze.
  3. Verify that your wiper blades work properly and are sharp enough to handle winter snow and slush. Make sure to have a jug of spare windshield washer solution in your trunk.
  4. Test your heater and defroster to make sure that you will not be stranded on a cold day with no heat in your car, as well as fogged up windows.
  5. Have your oil and filter changed according to manufacturer's recommendations. For winter, consider having winter weight oil added if you live in a particularly cold climate. The technician who changes your oil will usually check your air, fuel, and transmission filters to make sure they are working right.
  6. If you need a tune up, have it done before winter to minimize sluggish performance, idling problems, and hard starts.
  7. Check to make sure your brakes are in good condition and, if necessary, replace the pads. Ensuring good braking action is particularly necessary in the winter. Cars with ABS brakes require a different technique than other brake systems.
  8. Have your technician take a look at your exhaust system to make sure it is stable and has no carbon monoxide leaks. Since you are more likely to garage your car in the winter, carbon monoxide can leak into the interior of your car. To prevent other deadly problems with exhaust, make sure that your garage doors open if you warm-up your car in the morning. Little known fact: Most modern cars do not need a warm up period to start driving.
  9. Check the condition of your tires before winter to make sure that they have enough tread and that the pressure is right. If you are approaching the point where you should replace your tires, consider doing so before winter for easier driving. Throughout the winter, make sure to check the tire pressure. Depending on where you live, you might want to invest in snow tires with special treads to better maneuver slick roads. In checking your tire pressure, don't forget the spare.
  10. Make sure that all interior and exterior lights work properly to warn other drivers of your presence, and for driving conditions when visibility can be difficult.

More Common Sense Precautions

Even after taking all these steps to prepare your car for winter, there are a few other actions you should take to prevent problems. Keeping your gas tank at least half full will reduce the chances of moisture accumulating in your gas lines and also make sure you have enough gas to make the trip in case of weather delays that keep you stranded on the road. To keep your windows clear, invest in a good ice paper and snow brush, and stock other emergency tools such as jumper cables, flashlight, blankets, flares, candles or matches, bottled water, medications, and food and drink to sustain you if you get stranded. You might even have a few extra pairs of socks in the glove compartment; if you put them out over your shoes, you can get better traction in the snow.

Jen Stott is a writer and blogger, and works as the Content Director at Be Locally SEO in Salt Lake City, Utah. Allow a mechanic to assist in preparing your car for winter with thorough testing.
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