How to Prepare Your Car for Winter at Home
Winter is coming. And that means dangerous roads, slick driving conditions, scary snow storms and general morning annoyances when getting the car ready for the daily commute.
One caveat: you should defer to an expert when it comes to the final say on whether your car is ready for winter. Thankfully, we can recommend some great options for service shops in your area.
However, let’s say that getting to a service shop just isn’t in the cards for the foreseeable future. In that case, there are a number of things you can do today – in your garage or on the roads – to improve your safety on wintery roads.
Double check fluid levels
This is the first time, but not the last, that we’ll ask you to pull out the ol’ owner’s manual and do a bit of reading. Double check that your oil is appropriate for winter, as it might be necessary to switch to a low-viscosity type to deal with the cold. However, don’t do this without advice from the manual or a certified mechanic as it may damage your engine.
Put together a winter survival kit
If the worst case scenario comes and you’re left stranded in your car, you’ll be glad you took the time to gather together some necessary supplies. It’s always a good idea, regardless of the season, to keep bottled water, non-perishable food and a First Aid kit in your car. It’s also essential to keep spare tires and a jack ready in case of tire damage. Kitty litter can be used to give your car traction when stuck in snow and a shovel and an ice scraper can keep your car free of ice and snow. Jumper cables are great for emergencies, or to be a good neighbor when other cars are stuck. To avoid freezing if your heater goes out, keep blankets, heating pack hand warmers, boots, and gloves handy.
Install snow tires and check air pressure
Tires are the one place where your car touches the road, and in bad weather that makes them the most important part of keeping you safe while driving. Now is a good time to consider buying and installing snow tires if you drive in a lot of snow and ice and want the safest option.
Properly inflated tires are the most important piece of tire maintenance during the winter and all year round. All-weather tires and snow tires alike can’t do their job properly if they aren’t inflated correctly. Cold weather and temperature fluctuations can lower tire pressure to unsafe levels quickly. Find the right pressure levels in your owner’s manual (remember your old friend, the owner’s manual?). If you’re used to checking pressure monthly (as we greatly recommend you do!) step it up to bi-weekly or even every time you fill the tank. Your improved gas mileage and well-maintained tires will thank you!
Change windshield wipers and fluid
A car without windshield wipers aren’t that different from driving without wearing your prescription eyeglasses. Avoid this kind of safety hazard while driving by checking that your windshield wipers actually wipe before they’re actually needed in a storm. Top off windshield wiper fluid too, while you’re at it. It can be useful for cleaning off mud slung at you from tires and for melting ice on your windshield.
Drive safer and smarter
It always seems as if people forget how to drive in the winter by the time the first snowfall of the year comes around. Whether it’s the first snowfall of the season or the last, driving cautiously can never go amiss. Not sure how to do that? Here are some tips.
- Drive slower than you think you need to. Even when the weather isn’t awful shady parts of the road and bridges can hide dangerous ice patches.
- Don’t pass snow plows. It’s almost certain that the road behind them is safer than the road ahead.
- Keep plenty of space between yourself and the car ahead of you, in case someone’s brakes fail.
- Err on the side of caution and pull over or off the road if you think the conditions are too dangerous to continue driving in.
- If you can at all help it, don’t drive at all!
Does this all sound like too much trouble? Don’t risk getting stranded with mechanical problems this winter. Schedule service online with CarSoup.com today!