Winter’s worst may pack a mean wallop, therefore it is important to ensure your car is ready for what comes your way. Ideally, you’ll have your maintenance tasks handled before the big chill settles in. But if you don’t, it isn’t too late to get your car ready for winter.
9 Ways to Get Prepared
1. Make it winter-ready. Check your car’s battery to ensure it has enough juice to handle extreme temperatures. Wipe off the connections and test them with a digital multimeter. If the battery is too weak to hold a charge, replace it. Other things to check include the brakes, cooling system, belts, hoses, wires, spark plugs, and cables.
2. Check your tires. If you live in a snowy climate, swap out the radials for winter tires. For everyone else, ensure that your tires are adequately inflated. Rotate them to balance wear across all four tires. Lastly, check the spare – it needs to have enough air to do the job when called upon.
3. Replace the wiper blades. Chances are the wiper blades are ready for a change. If so, consider installing winter blades if your area regularly entertains snow, sleet, and ice. These do a better job of cleaning windshields.
4. Fill the washer fluid reservoir. In tandem with the wiper blades, windshield washer fluid is a must. A winter blend is best for combatting low temperatures. It won’t freeze while sitting in the reservoir and it’ll provide liquid to clean the windshield when you need it.
5. Keep ample fuel in the tank. Having enough fuel on hand makes sense. Keeping at least half the tank full reduces condensation and prevents gas line freezes. With ample fuel in the tank, you’ll have enough fuel to keep your car running, should you become stuck.
6. Assemble a winter kit. Hopefully, you already have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Flares, a flashlight, spare batteries, jumper cables, a knife, and tape are among the essentials included. For winter travelers, an extra kit for special gear including a blanket, hat, gloves, shovel, deicer, and a scraper are helpful. We also recommend a pack of matches, non-perishable food, and water. Consider bringing sand or kitty litter to put down on the road for added traction.
7. Keep an eye on the weather. Knowing the weather conditions before you head out is important at any time. But it can become critically vital in the winter if you are planning an extended trip. Check your weather app to determine the conditions between your current and planned destination. Change your route if you must or delay your trip if a heavy snowfall is expected. In any case, expect the worst and prepare for it. Traveling unaware is not wise.
8. Make sure the HVAC is working. You’ve been running the a/c during warm weather and that’s great. With chillier meteorological conditions, it is all heat. Have you checked the defrosters, particularly the rear window defroster? The heating elements can wear out, but a more likely cause if the system isn’t working is a blown fuse. Check the fuse box to ensure that all fuses are ready to go. Replacements are as close as your nearest auto parts store.
9. Review your winter driving skills. Driving on ice and snow is different from driving on wet roads. Both are slick, but ice simply makes driving treacherous. You can’t always avoid going out, but you can plan accordingly. Remember to reduce your speed, operate in a lower gear, and maintain extra distance between vehicles. If you start to slide, turn your vehicle in the direction of the skid, while moving forward. Do not panic brake; simply move ahead while maintaining control of your ride.
Winter is delightful, but it can also become frightful. Especially when road conditions are terrible. If you’re caught in the middle of it all, sometimes the best option is to pull off the road and find a warm place to wait for the plows to come through.