Summer is long gone and Autumn is nearly through which means now is the best time to prepare your vehicle for the snowy days ahead. Don’t risk getting caught in a ditch, or spun out on I-90 to take action; prepare now and avoid those headaches, not to mention the possible repair bills. Here are our top five tips on making sure your car or truck is ready for the long winter ahead.
It’s easy to agree that one of the – if not the most – important components of your vehicle is the tires. They are a major contributor to just about everything your car is used for – going, stopping, and turning. Their importance is magnified during the winter when road conditions are slippery and low on traction.
At a minimum you should check the pressure of your tires as the seasons change. Colder air is also denser which means the pressure in your tires will drop. Not only will under-inflated tires reduce fuel efficiency, but they’ll also widen their contact patch which negatively affects their winter performance.
The best thing to do to prepare your tires for winter driving is to replace them with a dedicated set of snow tires. These tires are specially developed to grip slick surfaces which drastically improves acceleration, stopping, and handling. Understandably, not everyone can afford two sets of tires. If that’s the case, be sure your all-season tires have sufficient tread life. If they’re close to needing to be replaced, we encourage you to do so before winter starts.
What good is your car if you can’t start it? That’s precisely why you should have it tested before sub-zero temperatures are an everyday occurrence. Long, hot summers really take their toll on your vehicle’s battery, but it’s not until freezing temperatures that you notice. Your car’s starter requires an immense amount of amperage to turn over a cold engine and a worn battery simply won’t provide enough juice.
To avoid the surprise of a flat battery, have it tested prior to cold weather setting in. Have the battery load tested to ensure its cold cranking amps are still within spec. If not, you should have it replaced sooner rather than later.
The fluids that flow through your engine are vital to its overall performance and dependability. Routine maintenance like oil changes, brake fluid flushes, and cooling system flushes should not be postponed if you’re due before winter begins. Neglecting any of these can lead to an inoperable vehicle and possibly at the worst time.
Maybe the most unappreciated safety feature of your vehicle is the wiper blades. Think about it – they clear your windshield during bad weather so you can see the road ahead of you. Without them, you’re navigating blind during inclement weather. It’s best to check them for wear before winter starts and the roads are covered in smear-prone salt brine. Look for cracks or sign of wear in the rubber blades. If they look worn, or you can’t remember the last time they were replaced, then they should be swapped out. A small investment for clear, unobstructed vision while driving during a snowstorm is a worthy one.
While this tip has nothing to do with your car, it has everything to do with your safety in the event your vehicle leaves you stranded in the middle of winter. Be sure you pack an emergency kit and have it with you when you’re traveling this winter. At a minimum this kit should include extra hats, gloves, warm blankets, a small shovel, a tow rope, and boots if you frequently wear dress or casual shoes. All of these will come in handy in the event your car is stuck, breaks down, or the roads are simply too dangerous to drive on. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be stranded somewhere for an extended period of time, think of how agonizing it would be if you were and without any supplies.
We’re hopeful these tips will be helpful in preparing your vehicle for the wintery roads ahead of us. Remember, winter driving is hazardous all on it’s own. Don’t give Old Man Winter an extra advantage by neglecting basic car maintenance. Stay safe out there!