As the days grow shorter and colder, the dropping temperatures are going to put more stresses on your car. The last thing you want is for your car to fail to start in the morning. Even worse, you don’t want your car to fail in the middle of your morning commute. There are a few things you can do to help prepare your car for winter, and most of them just take a little time.
Get Your Oil Changed
It’s always good to time your oil changes (every three months) with the changing of the seasons. This allows you to adjust the type of oil that is in your car. Depending on how severe the change in temperature in your area, you might need to change your oil to a different viscosity. Remember as you get your car ready for winter that oil becomes thicker in the cold, so you might need a thinner weight.
Flush and Refill Your Coolant
If it’s been a while since you’ve had your coolant flushed and changed, you should consider doing so. Replace your old coolant with a new 50/50 mix. Despite what others may tell you, a standard 50/50 mix will keep your engine running in temperatures as low as -34 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you do live in areas where the winters get colder than that, you’ll need a richer mix. Consult a local licensed professional for advice.
Refill Washer Fluid and Check the Wipers
Winter brings precipitation. Whether it is rain, snow, or an icy mix, you need to be prepared. When getting ready for winter, that means you should change your washer fluid over to a de-icing blend. You should also inspect your wiper blades to ensure that the rubber isn’t torn or warped. Run the wipers for a minute or so to see if there is any streaking. You want your blades to ensure that you have a clear view of the roads in any conditions.
Check Your Battery
Make sure that your battery is still able to hold a full charge. You can get this tested at any major auto supply chain. Look at the sticker on your battery to see if it is nearing the expiration date. If it is, you may want to replace it ahead of the winter. You’re going to put a heavier load on the battery during the winter, so it’s better to be safe than have your battery fail you when you need it most.
Check and Clean Lights
Your lights are extremely important during the winter. Nights are longer, days are overcast, and your lights will be on more than during the summer. Take the opportunity to make sure that your headlights are clean. If they’re cloudy, use the toothpaste trick to clean them. After all, other drivers can’t avoid you if they don’t see you coming.
Check Your Tires
If you change your tires from a summer touring tire to a winter tire, make your appointment to have them changed now. If you use an all-weather tire, make sure that it stays inflated properly. You also want to ensure that your tires are going to last for the winter. Check your tread using the penny method. Put a penny into the tire so that the Abe Lincoln’s head is into the tread. If you can see all of him, then you need to get new tires. If you’re getting close, you may want to take advantage of the fall deals that tire dealers hold and get a new set now.
Restock Your Emergency Kit
Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are, something happens and you need an emergency kit. Make sure that yours has a good first aid kit in it. Get a couple of mylar blankets as well. These thin blankets are made of a material that is an excellent thermal insulator. They’ll keep you warm and they don’t take up much space at all. Road flares, a wind-up radio/flashlight combination, and emergency rations are also handy to have. If it seems extreme, remember that it’s far better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it. One very important tool is a combination window hammer/seat belt cutter. Keep one in your glove box or in the center compartment.
With these simple things, you can be sure that your car is ready for winter driving. There are certainly adjustments you should make depending on how cold your region gets and the difference in temperature between summer and winter. If you aren’t comfortable doing these checks and maintenance on your own, please consult a certified mechanic. Also, while you prepare for winter driving, check out these winter driving myths so you don’t get fooled from hearsay. We at Think Crucial want you to stay safe this winter on the roads.