You know that feeling when it’s nice and cold outside, it’s only just started snowing and you can’t wait to get out and enjoy the winter wonderland? What’s the first thing you do? You bundle up, right?
Well, your car doesn’t have the same luxury, so while you are shielded from the cold by a warm jacket, gloves, scarf, hat, boots and whatever else is left in your closet at this point, your car is on its own when it comes to fighting the freezing cold.
But, don’t despair!
While you cannot exactly wrap up your vehicle, you CAN do a few things to prepare your car for winter weather:
1) Get winter tires
Driving with bald tires on a slippery surface is a surefire way to lose control of your vehicle, so now is the perfect time to perform a preemptive tire examination. Check them for tread life, wearing and cupping, as well as for sidewall cuts and nicks. If your tires are in less than perfect condition, you ought to save up for winter tire shopping. Aside from that, keep an eye on the pressure, so as not to end up with a flat tire on the side of the road (but if you do, see here how to fix it). Rotate tires regularly, check your spare, as well as the tools you have in the trunk. Finally, make sure to have your wheels aligned and tires inflated properly to avoid your fuel costs rising unnecessarily.
2) Have the battery tested
Any seasoned driver knows that car battery capacity is bound to decrease significantly in winter weather, which is why it is always wise to have it checked. You can do a preliminary (superficial) check-up yourself where you can make sure posts and cable connections are corrosion-free and screwed on tightly, as well as make sure fluid levels are optimal. For all further insights into the state of your car battery, take it to your trusted mechanic. Moreover, even with a brand new battery in your vehicle, it is always a good idea to have a set of jumper cables in the trunk. That way you can at least lend a hand to some poor fellow driver whose car battery has died on them.
3) Check the fluids
Regardless of the time of the year, fluids are a vital part of your car, because without them, it is struggling to perform. Check vehicle manual to see what is the optimal oil viscosity for winter weather in order to avoid it thickening and clogging the system. Not only that, but also make sure your oil level isn’t low, or your engine won’t run properly. Furthermore, pay special attention to engine coolant, as it is imperative that it be a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and antifreeze to prevent freezing.
4) Keep the windshield clear
If you happen to have noticed any cracks on your windshield and you haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Winter weather is NOT your friend here, so drive your car to a specialist and have it taken care of. Moreover, check the defrosters and wiper blades for any possible malfunctions or damage, and if you notice any, replace them. And most importantly, top off the washer fluid and make sure you use one that can withstand extreme winter temperatures. By optimizing visibility, you are less likely to be involved in an accident, so make sure you can actually see what is going on in front of you.
5) Inspect all car lights
Winter weather includes not only snow, frost and icy wind, but also considerable cloudiness and shorter days, so you should examine all the lights on your car to make sure you can communicate with other drivers appropriately. Replace burned out bulbs and make sure the plastic headlight covers are free of scratches or haze, since those tend to have a negative effect on the brightness of the headlights, making driving difficult for you. However, if you do notice any scratches or other kinds of damage, drive your car to a professional or fix it yourself with a DIY kit.
6) Add a coat of wax
Car waxing should be a routine part of winter car maintenance, because it provides your vehicle with a protective layer against the elements. In the winter, your enemy is not only the snow, but also the salt used by road crews to melt the ice and snow gathering on the roads. It has a nasty habit of sticking to the undercarriage, wheels and brakes of your car and leads to corrosion of metal parts exposed to it. Therefore, wash your car regularly to clean the salt, even in the winter, and wax it, especially behind the wheels, quarter panels and front grille to prevent corroding.
7) Build an emergency kit
If you don’t already have one, now is the perfect time to build an emergency kit in case your car dies on you in winter weather. The content of the kit is bound to vary from one driver to another, but here is a list of essentials:
- Jumper cables or battery booster
- Tire inflation kit
- Tire chains
- Shovel or spade
- Road flares, flashlight, extra batteries
- Cell phone car charger
- (Electric) blanket
- Extra boots and/or change of clothes
- Bottled water, non-perishable foods.
You don’t have to pack half of your garage and closet, but make a list of things you might need if you ever find yourself stranded, put them in a bag and keep in your car. You will thank your lucky stars for doing that when you least expect it.
To avoid having car trouble in winter weather altogether, don’t skip regular car maintenance. Let us take care of your car as if it were our own and you will never have to worry about your safety again.
Come to our repair shops in Hamilton today!