Posted by: Discover Directory on 10/10/2018

How to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

How to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

You know the famous phrase about a particularly cold season coming?

Well, it’s on its way and you need to get your car ready for it. 

Thankfully, modern cars don’t require extensive winterization routines that older cars do, but there are still a few things to check so you can have the peace of mind that comes with having a well-running car.

1. Check your battery

You know how on the first really cold day of the year, your car is a little more resistant to turning on? That’s because cold weather is tough on your battery. The chemical reactions required to generate power in your car battery slow down in extremely cold temperatures. If it gets down to 5 degrees F, your fully charged battery has only half of its rated amp-hour capacity.

Plus, during cold weather, your engine requires more current from the battery to get the engine started. If you add together less power output with more power requirements, you’re left with a car that won’t start on a cold winter morning. Take your car to a mechanic before it gets too cold and have them run a battery load test to see if your battery needs to be replaced. 

2. Change your wiper blades and refill your wiper fluid.

You obviously need to see the road to drive safely. But extra wintry precipitation and a build-up of salt on your windshield drastically reduces your visibility. 

Taking the step to make sure you have working windshield wipers and an ample supply of wiper fluid will ensure you have a clear line of sight even if a snowstorm catches you by surprise. 

If your area gets especially hard winters, consider buying wiper blades designed specifically for winter weather. 

3. Consider getting snow tires

Snow tires won’t magically remove the chance of your car slipping and sliding, but they do provide more traction than the regular variety. 

Snow tires have tread patterns specially designed to grip into snow and ice. They’re also made of a softer rubber which retains flexibility even in the bitterest of cold weather.

If your area gets covered in snow for most of winter, keep yourself safe by replacing your regular tires with snow tires.

4. Check your tire pressure

Low air pressure can make a hazardous situation worse since it reduces traction. If you aren’t putting on snow tires, you definitely need to make sure your regular tires are properly inflated. 

Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tire’s air pressure will drop about 1psi. 

Properly inflated tires ensure the best possible contact between the road and your tires, which is essential for driving in wintry conditions. 

5. Check your anti-freeze mixture

The mixture of anti-freeze and water in your car’s radiator should be about 50:50. It prevents the coolant in your radiator from freezing. 

Your local auto parts store likely carries an inexpensive anti-freeze tester so you can check the composition of your radiator’s fluid.

6. Stock your car with emergency supplies

Winterizing your car is all about being prepared for the worst. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of a snowstorm without supplies you need. 

  • Jumper cables

You should already have these in your car for the rest of the year anyway, but they’re extra important in the winter because your battery is working overtime during the winter.

  • Flashlight

There’s nothing worse than having to change a tire in the dark or jump starting another car when you can’t see where the battery is. If you ever need an extra light, you’ll thank yourself for thinking ahead and sticking a flashlight in your glovebox.

  • A roadside flare or reflective triangle

When you have to pull over, you’re basically a sitting duck that can only hope oncoming drivers won’t accidentally hit you. Make sure you’re visible for other drivers and emergency vehicles with a reflective triangle or by lighting an emergency road flare. 

  • Blankets

Keeping a spare blanket in your car is a good idea beyond emergencies. What if you go to a football game and it’s more chilly than you expected? Good thing you have a blanket on hand. Going to the beach and need something to sit on? Emergency blanket to the rescue. But when it’s winter and your car won’t start? You’re going to be glad you have the blanket on hand.

  • First aid kit

Whether you need to apply pressure to a serious wound or you’re fixing a small boo-boo on your toddler’s finger, having a first aid kit on hand is always a good thing.

  • Water bottles

Water is life. You don’t want to be stranded without it. Not having water on hand could turn a bad situation into a worse one. Don’t make a hard day harder with dehydration.

  • Folding shovel

There are a few instances where you’ll look at the sky and say “thank you” when you remember you have a shovel in your car already. If you get stuck in snow and your tires are just spinning without any traction, you can use the shovel to dig yourself out. Or if your car gets stuck in a hole, you can use the shovel to dig and get your car unstuck.

7. Change the oil and adjust the viscosity

Your engine needs proper lubrication from oil to run; unfortunately, cold weather reduces the oil’s effectiveness. The colder outside, the thicker the oil gets, and the less easily it circulates through your engine. You could be left with a car that won’t start if the engine isn’t as lubricated as it needs to be.

To avoid a stress headache, change the oil to a thinner one and find the proper viscosity of oil you need in the owner’s manual. They usually have information on proper viscosity levels for different weather and climates.

8. Check your belts and hoses

Cold temperatures can weaken the belts and hoses that help your engine run effectively. Check them for signs of wear and tear and get them replaced if needed. If a belt snaps while you’re driving, you’ll be waiting in your freezing car for a tow truck.

Don't be caught by surprise

Don’t let winter catch you by surprise this year. If you take these simple steps to get your car ready for winter, you’ll be prepared for any situation that arises on the road.

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