From frigid temperatures to black ice on roadways, winter months certainly put our vehicles to the test. The last thing you want to happen is for your vehicle to break down in below zero temperatures or freezing rain.
Here are five things you can do now to ensure your car will get you to and from your destination safely this winter:
1.Prepare Your Fluids
Before the temperature really starts to plunge, make sure you check these fluids:
- Motor Oil – Consider switching to a winter-grade oil at your next oil change. The colder the weather, the thinner you want the oil in your engine to be. The viscosity of your oil in colder weather is indicated by the first number in the oil specification. For example, a 5W-30 oil is better in the winter than a 10W-30 oil.
- Coolant & Antifreeze – These fluids prevent your engine from overheating/freezing. Without antifreeze, your engine can literally freeze. Make sure these fluids are topped off for the season.
- Wiper Fluid – Wiper fluid you would typically use in the summer and spring is essentially useless in the winter, freezing almost instantly after it touches your windshield. When preparing for winter, make sure you switch out your fluid with “winter” wiper fluid. Winter fluid is designed for the rigors of winter and won’t freeze on your windshield.
2.Replace Old Windshield Wiper Blades
Your windshield wipers are a crucial tool in the winter, helping to maximize your visibility when faced with freezing rain, sleet and snow. At a minimum, examine the rubber lining of your blades and ensure they aren’t cracked or damaged as this could create a streaking effect – decreasing visibility. Replace them with rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up.
3.Test Your Battery
Car batteries tend to die most often in the winter months due to cold temperatures. It takes professional equipment to detect if a battery is weak or not, but you can always perform routine maintenance to help keep them strong.
Always check your owner’s manual and wear protective rubber gloves in addition to eye protection before performing any maintenance:
- Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections
- Clean all surfaces
- Tighten all connections
4.Examine Your Tires Carefully
Worn tires can be especially dangerous in winter. Some checkpoints to ensure your tires are ready for winter include:
- Checking tread depth and wear
- Examining sidewalls for cuts and nicks
- Checking tire pressure
- Rotating tires as recommended
*Don’t forget to check your spare, too!
5.Pack a Winter Emergency Kit
This is a must for winter travel. If you do become stranded in inclement weather, this kit will ensure you and your family will remain safe until help arrives.
At a minimum, you should carry these items:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight with extra batteries, or a hand-crank flashlight
- First-Aid kit including band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze, antiseptic gel, medical wrap, etc.
- Multi-tool (Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman Tool)
- Road Flares or reflective warning triangles
- Cell phone charger
- Bottled Water
Click here for a full list of items to include in your winter emergency kit.