It may only be mid November, but it’s never too early to start preparing your car for the cold winter ahead. Take these steps to keep safe and save time and money on car repair in the months to come.
1. Winter Tires – Depending on where you are and how much snowfall is expected, all-season tires might not be as effective as tires meant for snow. Getting the right tires can keep you from slipping off the road, and prevent expensive tow bills.
2. Tire Pressure – Cold weather will compress the air in tires, making them flatter. Make sure you keep your tires properly inflated so that you can drive smoothly and with ease. Bonus: properly inflated tires also increase fuel-efficiency.
3. Windshield Wipers – Windshield wipers only last about a year, so make a point of replacing them just before winter. If you are choosing new ones, consider “Beam Blades,” which are less likely to freeze up. Pop your blades in freezing rain or snow so they do not freeze to your windshield.
4. Oil and Other Fluids – Make sure you have the right oil for your car and that it will perform well in the cold. Also check your other fluid levels (especially washer fluid) while you’re under the hood. When your fluid levels are appropriate, your car will run better and be less susceptible to problems that can cost you money down the road.
5. Check Your Battery – To avoid the headache later, find out where your battery level is now by load-testing it. You can do this fairly inexpensively at any mechanic shop.
6. Double Check Your Antifreeze/Coolant – Before winter hits, check your antifreeze and coolant. Try to top it off before you see the warning light. Check your owner’s manual to determine how often you need a flush and what the right product is for your car. Be extra careful if you’ve recently moved to a more frigid climate, as you may need to upgrade your antifreeze and coolants to a more powerful variety.
7. Carry Basic Supplies – For snowy climates, invest in a substantial snowbrush and an ice scraper. It’s also a good idea to have a shovel and a bag of sand to help with traction; and extra windshield washer fluid. A blanket is a good idea – just in case. Keep any winter clothes you don’t wear anymore, especially an old pair of boots, in the car as well.