Winter is coming, so it’s time to prepare your car for cold weather. Use this 11-step guide to help make sure your car has what it needs to stay safe in the winter months.
1. Research your route for roads prone to snow
If you are travelling on roads with known snow-prone spots, it pays to do some research and get some local advice before hitching up for an adventure. Enlisting the help of your friendly neighborhood state highway department might be a good idea before you go.
Then you can beat the storm and have a more enjoyable journey. What are the common problems on that route? What do other people do? What kind of vehicle should I be driving and what kit do I need?
2. Check your tire pressures
Getting your tires ready for winter isn’t the first thing most of us think about when we think about the upcoming cold season. But it should be. If you’re not checking your tire pressure levels during the fall and preparing them for winter, you’ll want to start now. Make sure your tires are properly inflated with the recommended cold-weather PSI for your vehicle.
3. Consider purchasing snow tires
Snow tires are important to have in the winter as they increase the level of grip between your car and the road. This is why it is highly recommended that you invest into buying snow tires if you live in a place that snows often in winter.
Usually snow tires are made of a different material than normal tires and this helps in preventing slips when driving through snow. Winter tires help you accelerate and stop more quickly, and they help your car grip the road better when it’s covered with snow or ice.
4. Make sure your heater is in good condition
Having a working heater is more than just being comfortable, it can also help save lives and prevent you from getting stranded in extremely cold temperatures for long periods of time.
Keeping your car heater in good condition will help you win the Winter War with cold. With a well-maintained car heater, you can enjoy the coldest days of the year.
5. Get your wiper blades ready for the colder conditions ahead
Wiper blades slowly lose their effect on your windshield due to wear and tear. This reduces visibility and puts other road users at risk of accidents. Carefully drive your car with the current blade, but when it’s time to replace them, you can’t afford to be left unprepared for the cold weather ahead.
However, we recommend replacing your blades more frequently as it will assure your visibility on wet roads and snow covered roads.
6. Make sure you have a full tank of gas
Don’t fight harsh weather in a car that isn’t ready for it. You can save yourself time, and money, by taking the proper precautions ahead of time. Weather shifts too fast for you to wait until you need fuel to fill up your tank. Fuel up before entering winter. Make sure your gas tank is full prior to beginning a trip that could find you in a remote area with no fuel available.
7. Ensure you have emergency kit in your car
It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car. But before you start adding things to your car’s emergency kit, think about your specific needs. Your route and daily commute will help you create the right kit for you and your passengers. A few items that are always good to have are:
• Blankets, including a full-sized blanket (ideally, for each person in your car)
• High-energy snacks
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• First-aid kit
• Emergency flares or triangles
8. Be protected against damage with car insurance
Winter driving is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared against winter storm damages with car insurance coverage from a great provider like AMI Insurance. Cover your vehicle with comprehensive, collision and other personal property damage coverage to protect you against things like road salt and stone chips.
9. Check your engine coolant and antifreeze levels
Nothing ruins a winter road trip like a car that won’t start because of frozen engine coolant. Antifreeze coolant is a liquid that flows through a vehicle’s engine to keep it from overheating. It helps maintain a freeze point lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which reduces the risk of water freezing and cracking the engine.
10. Switch to a winter-grade oil at your next oil change
Winter grade oil is a special blend of oils that are designed to withstand colder weather temperatures. It can extend the life of motor oil by preventing it from becoming too thick, which can happen over the course of a typical winter.
Right now, you may be thinking, “I’ve already had my oil changed for the season. I don’t need to bother with this additional step.” Listen, Being fully prepared can make the difference between having a great winter road trip or one packed with discomfort, danger and expense.
11. Don’t drive in blizzards
Driving in blizzards is almost as dangerous as driving in hurricanes. The safest approach is to avoid driving on iced-over roadways, especially on bridges and overpasses. If you must hit the road, slow down. Slow way down. Do not tailgate.
Give yourself much more room between vehicles, especially between your car and the vehicle in front of you. Watch out for slippery spots on the road surface, such as railroad tracks, or where a snowplow might have pushed snow from just off the left shoulder into the middle of your lane.
One can never be too prepared — for anything. Yet, too many people run their cars in the winter without preparing it first. The result? Major issues down the road. So take time to prepare your car now, and you’ll save yourself major hassle in the future.
With the right maintenance, a little love and attention in the next few months will give you a vehicle ready to roll when the snow starts flying.