Get Your Car or Truck Ready for Winter
Chances are,you're prepared for winter. You've got your warm jacket, boots, gloves, scarf and hat.
But what about your vehicle? Without the proper preparation, the cold temperatures can be tough on the vehicle and dangerous for the driver.
Winterizing your vehicle with the help of a mechanic and having the right equipment on hand can help ensure your car or truck runs smoothly all winter long.
Where you live will have an impact on how you prepare your vehicle for winter. For example, if you live in upstate New York or any of the states along the eastern seaboard, you'll need to worry about driving in snow.
If you live in central Alaska, where the temperature can drop down to minus 50, you'll need to ensure your car can get going, and keep moving.
Having your car or truck professionally winterized gives you peace of mind, and can help discover minor issues with your vehicle before they turn into major and expensive problems.
Even if you live in a mild climate, spring and fall are good times to mark for regular service and maintenance.
A Winter Checklist for Your Car Or Truck
1. Check your battery. It takes a lot of wear and tear over the winter. Make sure the posts are free from corrosion. If your battery is more than four years old, have your mechanic test it to make sure it will hold a charge. In very cold climates, consider buying a battery blanket. As the name suggests, it wraps around the battery and is plugged in to provide heat.
2. Check the brakes. A good braking system is critical to winter driving safety and icy conditions will put your brakes to the test.
3. Make sure you can see clearly. You'll be driving in darkness more often and snowfall limits visibility. Install windshield wipers that are specially designed for use in ice and snow. They are inexpensive and one of the best winter investments you'll make. Make sure your windshield washer fluid is designed for cold weather. This is a good time to have small chips in your windshield repaired.
4. Check the belts and hoses. Cold weather makes rubber and plastic rigid and more prone to cracking, so have them checked for wear and tear. Don't assume your belts and hoses are in good shape just because you have a newer model of car or truck.
5. Check your tire pressure. As a rule, tire pressure will drop in the cold. It's important to keep your tires properly inflated in order to get proper traction in wet, snowy and icy conditions.
6. Make sure you have the right tires. If you get a lot of snow, particularly in hilly areas, chances are you'll need snow tires. No matter what type of tires you have, check the tread. If your tires are worn, chances are you will spend more time sliding than stopping.
7. Check your extension cord. If you plug in your vehicle to power your oil pan heater and battery blanket, make sure your extension cord is not worn or frayed. Choose a heavy duty cord designed for use in winter conditions. There are models available that are designed to remain pliable in extreme cold.
8. Consider installing an in-car heater. Like the battery blanket, and oil pan heater, the in-car heater is plugged into your extension cord. It delivers just enough heat to prevent the seats from turning into hard frozen slabs when it's very cold. They don't use a lot of electricity and should cut down on the amount of time you spend idling the car to warm up the interior.
9. Use the right oil. In cold temperatures, oil can become thicker and may not move properly throughout the engine. Check with your owner's manual or your mechanic to determine the best type of oil to use in the winter.
10.Don't forget the little things. Make sure you have a good quality snow brush and scraper. Replace them yearly.
A Final Tip
Always have a safety kit in your vehicle when you travel in the winter. You can buy a pre-made kit through Amazon by clicking on this highlighted link or put together one yourself.
Your kit should include:
Sturdy nylon tow rope
First Aid Kit
Spare windshield wipers
Bag of sand or kitty litter (provides traction on ice)
Spare set of warm clothes
Windshield washer fluid
Food and water
Keep your gas tank full and your cell phone fully charged when you are driving in winter conditions.
Having a complete winter survival kit for your vehicle and knowing how to use it's contents means you are in a position to help yourself and others on the road this winter.