Winter Driving and Your Car
Cold weather will soon be here and with it will come the first snowflakes of the season. Those flakes won’t hang around, but they should serve as notice to you that you need to get your car ready for the winter. The following tips are offered in a bid to help prepare you for the months ahead.
Complete your scheduled maintenance now.
Mild days and cool nights mean you still have time to have your car serviced. That certainly beats dealing with sub-freezing temperatures, a broken down car and you as just one of hundreds of callers asking for roadside service. Expect to wait hours before help arrives.
This is where becoming acquainted with your owner’s manual is essential to sound car maintenance. Here, you can find out what due items must be handled now and as winter sets in. These items may include an oil change, tire rotation, belt replacement, air filter change and other updates.
Your battery needs to be checked.
One of the more common causes of automotive breakdown is due to the car’s battery. Such batteries are often corroded with poorly fitting connections or frayed wires are present. Correcting the problem should ensure that your battery will make it through the winter.
But hold on there — what if the battery has reached the end of its useful age? In this case replacing it is important. Typically, batteries last about three years, with some of the better batteries lasting for five years. In any case, when battery life is over, you’ll want to replace it with a new one.
Don’t forget your coolant system.
Areas where the weather is especially frigid for months on end require car owners to have a proper mix of coolant to water. In most cases a 50-50 water to coolant balance is sufficient. But in areas where temperatures drop below minus 40 degrees, wind chill included, a mixture of 70 percent antifreeze to 30 percent water is necessary.
Although you can add coolant and water to simply top off the system, flushing it out completely is important too, especially if you mix more than one type of coolant in your system. By the way, if you notice leaks in the coolant system, take care of them right away. Putting this off will only exacerbate the problem and can lead to a breakdown on the coldest morning of the year.
Examine the wipers and windshield washer solution.
Two of the more easily overlooked jobs with car maintenance are the windshield wipers and the washer fluid. Wipers generally need to be replaced annually, but are usually better replaced in the spring and again in the fall as extreme temperatures can take a toll.
Your windshield solution should be filled at the start of the season and checked at least monthly in the winter. Choose a solution that resists freezing and is able to work at temperatures far below zero.
Consider snow tires.
All-season tires seem like the ideal arrangement for most cars. They are if you live in a climate where snowfall is limited. For everywhere else, exchanging your tires for snow tires or what are usually known as winter tires is the best course of action to ensure traction explains Mavis Tire.
Opt for four tires, not just two. With four winter tires installed on your vehicle, you’ll have even grip all around. Store your all-season tires in a cool place, away from sources of heat and direct sunlight.
Cold weather and travel means bringing an emergency kit with you. Beyond the standard items such as jumper cables, flares, a first aid kits, duct tape and tools, you might also bring a change of clothes, blankets and food. Yes, getting stranded is no fun — it can prove deadly in the winter.