Before the cold weather really hits, it is best to prepare your car as best as possible to ensure that it’s running well and safely. While vehicles are made to handle inclement weather and cold temperatures, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your car is in the best possible condition.
Inspect Your Tires
Whether your car has front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or even four-wheel drive, inspect yours tires to make sure the tread is deep enough and the tire pressure is accurate. Worn down tires can be hazardous on slick winter roads.
- Tire Pressure – If you’ve never checked your tire’s pressure before, refer to your owner’s manual for the proper PSI. Most gas stations have air stations for your tires.
- Tread Check – The easiest way to ensure your tire tread is safe is with the penny test: hold a penny between your forefinger and thumb so you can see Lincoln’s head. Place the penny (upside down) in the tire tread and if you can see Lincoln’s whole head, your tires need to be replaced.
Check All Fluid Levels
Make sure your car’s fluids are all topped off to start the cold season. You can check at home or take it to your local mechanic.
- Oil – Mechanics sometimes recommend using thinner oil in the winter months because the cold weather can make it thicker and harder on your engine, but check your owner’s manual just in case.
- Coolant – If you live where temperatures get below freezing, it is important to have the proper water/antifreeze mixture to prevent your radiator from freezing. You can pick up a tester at any auto parts store to make sure the fluid is filled up to maximum capacity.
- Windshield Washer Fluid – This may get overlooked, but make sure your washer fluid contains antifreeze so you can see clearly all winter long.
Test Your Battery
It’s not only your engine that dislikes cold weather – your battery gets cold too! In fact, colder temperatures can wreak havoc on your battery capacity.
Check your battery for any cracks, make sure the cable connections are snug, and check the charge level. You can do this by turning off your engine and looking at your battery’s built-in hydrometer to check the voltage levels. If your car doesn’t have a hydrometer built-in, you can pick one up at an auto parts store.
Have an Emergency Kit
In case of an emergency, you’ll want to be prepared with all the essentials for both you and your vehicle. Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need in case you get stranded this winter.
Keep Up Regular Maintenance
The best way to ensure your car is running smoothly this winter is to stay on top of routine maintenance – this means getting your oil changed regularly, have your belts and hoses checked by a mechanic, and get your engine tuned up as recommended. Every vehicle is different, so reading over your owner’s manual before the cold weather strikes can be incredibly helpful so you know what to expect.