Each time the cold season rolls around, it’s important to take stock in and around your home to make sure you’re ready for winter. During this process, don’t forget about your vehicle. Wintery conditions require a different kind of preparation than any other time of year, so take steps early on and you’ll be sure to enjoy a safe, stress-free season on the road.
Fight the Elements
Winter is the time for rain, sleet, and snow, and much like the mail, most responsibilities in life won’t wait on the weather. Make sure that your windshield wipers are of high quality and in working order. Wiper blades should be promptly replaced when signs of cracking in the rubber are visible. Be sure your heater and defroster are functioning properly, as well.
With regard to your cooling system, make sure to flush and refill according to manufacturer recommendations. Most vehicle makers recommend a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze, although the concentration and overall condition of coolant should continue to be checked regularly.
Having an inspection of your braking system isn’t a bad idea any time of year, but it becomes a greater need when roads are slick with snow and ice. Play it safe: double-check your brakes, especially before any long trips for the holidays. The same goes for your tires; tread and inflation should be reviewed before the season hits. Rotate or replace as necessary.
Engine Oil Inspection
Refer to your owner’s manual to verify whether the maker recommends a different type of engine oil when temperatures dip. Those who live in the coldest climates can sometimes benefit from a specific viscosity when winter weather is at its harshest.
One of the components most susceptible to the chill is your car or truck’s battery. If you’re comfortable with hands-on maintenance, you can take steps to help keep it running, such as clearing away built-up corrosion from your battery’s posts and connections. A good strategy is to take your vehicle in to have the battery tested using professional equipment to ensure it’s not weak or in need of replacement.
For those who live where temperatures drop below the freezing point, using fuel de-icer on a monthly basis can help prevent the freezing of any moisture in your fuel lines. Additionally, it’s recommended that you keep your tank more than half-full for this reason. Plus, you’ll be less likely to run short on gas at an inopportune moment.
Keep in mind that road safety is everyone’s responsibility, so it’s important for each driver to do his or her own part. By taking a little time at the start of each winter, you can enjoy safe, smooth travels all season long.