Winterize Your Car
The change of season affects everything around us, including your vehicle. Give your car or truck the attention it needs before winter sets in to make sure it runs smoothly even during a heavy snowfall. Follow these easy steps to winterize your car so you can just hop in and drive off this winter.
Tires lose pressure as the temperature drops, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the tire pressure during the winter months. Check the tread depth and consider replacing worn out tires with winter tires; especially if your area experiences a lot of snowfall. Winter tires are suppler so they provide better traction on snow covered roads. Higher tire pressure (3-5 psi higher than normal) is recommended to give your car increased stability to offset the reduced responsiveness.
Your car battery has to crank out more power during winter as accessories like blowers, wipers, heated seats and rear defoggers work overtime to keep you comfortable and safe. Sub-freezing temperatures reduce the cranking power of your battery as the thickened oil in a cold engine is difficult to turn over.
Disconnect the cables to clean the terminals if you see any white corrosive deposits on them; while you’re at it, clean the cable connectors, too, using a wire brush or a special battery terminal brush. Batteries more than three years old should be serviced or replaced to avoid unforeseen power stoppages.
Take your car to the auto repair shop if your brakes make a squeaking sound, your car pulls to one side when braking, or the brake pedal sinks to the floor when you press on it. Take special care of your anti-lock braking system as it helps reduce skidding and maintains control in slippery conditions. Remove unnecessary items from your trunk as extra weight in the trunk will put extra pressure on the brakes and affects how quickly they respond.
Wipers and Lights
Changing your wiper blades is the easiest, least expensive way to make sure you‘re safe during a downpour or snowstorm. Consider installing wiper blades made especially for winter use. Check and keep your washer reservoir filled with special de-icer washer fluid for winter use. Use an ice scraper to clean off ice stuck to the windshield on a frosty morning to keep your wipers in good working condition.
Test to see if all your lights – including fog, brake and emergency and turn signal lights – are working properly.
Emergency Safety Kit
A roadside safety kit is an invaluable addition to your car, especially during the winter season when car breakdowns are more common. A good safety kit is easy to assemble and doesn’t take up much space. You can also buy preassembled safety kits designed to counter every emergency situation. Items to consider including in your car safety kit include:
- First-aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Hand tool kit
- Tire chains
- Blanket, warm clothes, hat and gloves
- Bag of sand or ice melt crystals
- Ice scraper
- Extra washer fluid
- Food and water
A pre-winter check-up done in the fall will help take care of the things you may not be able to do yourself. This tune-up can cover an oil change, air filter replacement, valve adjustment, spark plug inspection, and tire rotation and balance.