prepare your car for winter

How To Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter can be tough on your car, but by knowing how to prepare your car for winter, you can protect it from harsh temperatures.

The cold season is one of the most dangerous times to drive. The low temperatures, precipitation, and overall unpredictability of the weather can affect even the most experienced drivers.

9 Tips On How To Prepare Your Car For Winter

Now that the cold season is here, it is time to go through your car checklist and prepare your car for winter. According to vehicle recovery companies, your car is twice as likely to break down during winter.

Taking precautions allows you to avoid getting stuck unexpectedly in the cold. On this list, we look at how to winterize your vehicle with simple tasks such as checking the lights and more in-depth maintenance solutions such as fitting winter tires.

Winter Vehicle Preparedness Checklist

Be sure to accomplish the following tasks every week to keep your car prepared your car for winter.

Check Your Battery

Lower temperatures negatively affect your car battery’s power output making it more difficult for the engine to turnover. This problem is even more amplified if you have an old battery.

In winter, a tired battery struggles to provide enough power to start the car, increasing the chances of a no-start. Buy a home battery tester to check whether you need a replacement.

You can also check with a professional mechanic to determine whether you need a new battery. If you do, most car shops will fit the battery for you.

If your car has a stop-start system, you may need a heavy-duty battery in winter. Check with a mechanic to ensure you get the correct type for your vehicle.

Check the Coolant

Coolant stops the cooling system in your car engine from freezing. Check the effectiveness of your coolant using a tester.

Simply dip the tester into the coolant and squeeze the rubber end to suck some coolant from the reservoir.

The scale inside the tester will tell you whether you need to replace the coolant.

Check Your Exterior Lights

While this sounds simple enough, it is essential to remember that your lights are most important in winter.

Poor visibility coupled with shorter days makes it vital to have fully functional lights. Check your exterior lights regularly throughout the winter season.

Clean the lights when necessary to avoid salt and dirt build-up. Poor visibility caused by build-up reduces their effectiveness and can even reduce your visibility to other motorists.

Your lights are also more likely to need replacement in winter because you must always keep them on. Learn how to replace the lights, and always carry spare bulbs in the car to prepare for an emergency.

Carry an Emergency Kit

You probably have a survival kit in your car, so adding a few things will boost your preparedness in a winter emergency.

Place the items on this list together in a box that is easily accessible. This kit is crucial if you live in a rural or sparsely populated area.

  • Candle-powered heater: If your car breaks down, it may not be possible to run the car to keep warm.
  • Small LED flashlight: Make sure your emergency kit has a small flashlight with new batteries. It is handy for changing a tire or checking under the hood for minor fixes. It can also help signal other drivers for help in poor visibility.
  • Phone charger: Your cell phone can be a lifeline. Always keep it charged.
  • Notepad and pencil: In case of an accident, you might need to take down the other driver’s information. You may also need to write down additional emergency numbers from the dispatcher.
  • Portable air compressor: A portable air compressor can help you quickly fill up your tires to prevent tire failure due to low pressure.
  • Simple tool kit: This includes some screwdrivers, pliers, duct tape, and an adjustable wrench.
  • Safety Absorbent: If you are stuck, use a small bag of safety absorbent to get your car moving again.
  • Jumper cables: Always carry your jumper cables. They are inexpensive and can make all the difference between getting quick and easy help or calling a tow truck.
  • Foldable shovel: This will help you dig out compacted snow around your wheels.
  • Fix-a-flat: A can of fix-a-flat will help you get to the next tire shop so you are not stuck in the dark trying to put on the spare in the cold. Keep it in the cab to keep it warm.
  • First aid kit: This is essential for all motorists.
  • Warm hat, gloves, and blanket: These will keep you warm while you wait for help.

Check Your Tires

Driving in winter with worn tires is dangerous. Worn tires can negatively impact your stopping distance and stability on wet roads.

A single skid caused by worn-out tires can cost you thousands of dollars in suspension and steering compartment damages.

You will also still have to pay the deductible on your insurance and likely get an increase in your premiums as the at-fault driver for poor maintenance. Avoid slips and slides by buying new tires or investing in snow tires.

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Snow Tires

Snow tires offer added protection if you are a frequent driver in winter. They have exceptional grip even when the temperatures dip and perform better than regular tires when the roads are wet.

You can invest in a second set of wheels for use in winter. However, you may need professional help installing them during the cold season.

Always check your tread depth even if you are not interested in buying snow tires. Use the ‘Lincoln test’ to check the tread by simply inserting a penny inward.

If you can see Lincoln’s head, you might need to replace your tire before driving in winter.

Use Winter Wiper Fluid

Regular wiper fluid will freeze in contact with the windshield. Winter wiper fluid is designed to withstand cold temperatures and will not freeze on the windshield. It also loosens snow from the windshield, making it easier to keep it clear.

Switch to Winter-Grade Oil

You need thinner engine oil in cold weather. When colder temperatures begin, switch to an engine oil with a lower viscosity grade. If you use 10W-30, switch to 5W-30 to keep your car running well in winter.

Lube Weather Stripping

Avoid getting frozen out of your car in an emergency. In winter, water can seep between the car doors and weather stripping, freezing them shut.

Using silicone spray, you can prevent this by mating and weather-stripping the door surfaces.

Spray the silicone onto a clean cloth and use it to wipe the doors and weather stripping. Don’t forget to repeat the procedure on your trunk.

Prepare Your Car For Winter Final Thoughts

Be sure to start preparing your car for winter before the last minute. Some tips on this list can keep you safer on the roads during the cold season. However, maintaining your vehicle throughout the year will ensure that your car does not fail in winter.

Regular maintenance checks with your mechanic will ensure everything is running smoothly. Before winter rolls around, consider getting an overall inspection to avoid breakdowns. Make sure your car oil is changed and complete a fluid level inspection.

Simple practices such as lubricating your windows, door locks, latches, and hinges will help your car open easily. Invest in an ice scraper and always fold your wipers if you park outside to prevent them from freezing.

Before you go, we have more helpful articles, such as How To Take Care Of Car Leather Seats, Car Upholstery Repair: Everything You Need To Know, How Much To Repair A Scratch On A Car, and more!

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