Winter is coming! Winter brings snowflakes, the holidays, and cozy times with family and friends. It’s also one of the biggest travel seasons of the year. Before you even get out on the road, it’s important to check that your car is in working order and able to handle the wintery weather. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Check your tires for inflation and tread.
When the temperature outside drops, so does tire pressure. That’s why it’s important to make sure, especially in the winter, that your tires stay at the proper inflation level. It’s a good idea to check your tires’ pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure every month, even if they don’t feel low, and fill them as needed. If you’re unsure what PSI your tires need, that information can usually be found in the driver’s side doorjamb of your vehicle. Your tires will also need enough tread to handle icy and snowy roads. One way to check this is with the “Lincoln test”. Simply place a penny in the tread with his head facing inward toward the tire. If you can see his whole head, it’s time to get new tires before icy weather hits.
Get your battery checked.
Just like tire pressure, your car’s battery capacity also decreases in low temperatures. If you have a garage you can park your vehicle in to protect it from the cold, that helps. If not, you can make an appointment to have it tested by a mechanic to make sure it’s performing well. It’s also a good idea to bring jumper cables with you when you drive, just in case.
Monitor your car’s antifreeze levels.
Antifreeze does just what it sounds like—it prevents your engine from freezing. During the winter, this is a very real possibility if antifreeze levels are not where they should be. Check to see that it reaches the “Full” line on your radiator. If it doesn’t, add a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water until it does. Some antifreeze refills do come premixed, so check the bottle first to see if it should be used as is. This is an important step in prepping your vehicle for the season, since winter is a dangerous time to get stranded.
Use a winter-approved wiper fluid.
The wiper fluid you generally use in your car may not be made for subfreezing temperatures. If it’s not, it won’t be of much—if any—use during the winter. Regular wiper fluid used in these low temperatures will freeze to your windshield, creating visibility issues. Replacing it with the proper fluid for winter can prevent this from happening.
Ensure that your brake lights and headlights are functioning.
When snow and winter storms get really heavy, the road can become a white blur. It’s scary enough to drive in these conditions, but it’s even more unsafe if your car’s lights aren’t working. Make sure they are before you drive, and replace any bulbs that need replacing. This will help the drivers around you see you, which makes things safer for them and you.
Wax your car.
Between the snow, the ice, the salted streets, and the dirt from the road, your car is exposed to multiple damaging elements during winter. A good coat of wax can protect the exterior of your car from corrosive materials and weather. This is especially important behind the wheels and along the front grille, as these areas tend to collect the most snow, ice, and salt.
Inspect your car for general issues.
There are some little things that aren’t too big a deal during the rest of the year, but they might pose more of a problem in the winter. Check your windshields and window for cracks or chips, as these let in cold air. Make sure your wiper blades are functioning properly for driving in the snow. Try out the defrost setting and make sure it’s working well. If there’s a minor issue you’ve been putting off fixing, it would benefit you to address it before the weather gets too extreme.
Put a winter kit in your car for emergencies.
This may be the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers. Sure, you may never need to use it, but having a kit of winter supplies in your trunk can be a literal lifesaver. Think of what will be the most helpful items to have if you get stuck in your car on a cold day. You may want to include a flashlight, road flares, blankets, extra warm clothing, a portable battery pack to charge your cellphone, a first-aid kit, some high-protein snacks, and clean water—whatever you think you will need most in an emergency. It’s cheap and quick to get something like this together, and if worse comes to worst, you’ll be glad you did.
If you need help winterizing your vehicle, you can schedule an appointment online with the Bobb Automotive Service Department. It takes less than a minute to schedule, and our expertly trained, certified, full-service auto repair is available Monday thru Saturday. We can make sure your car is in tip-top shape, so you can have a worry-free holiday season. Check out our blog next week for tips on driving safely this winter. Safe travels, Ohio!