Here comes the snow and cold – again! Are you ready? Is your vehicle ready?
Everybody loves this time of year – right? The snow, the freezing rain, waiting for your car to warm up before you head to work, knocking the snow and ice from your windshield wipers, etc. Yeah, not so much.
With that in mind – a few tips to make your winter a little safer and hopefully somewhat hassle free. At least as it relates to your vehicle!
1: Wiper blades. Unless yours are less than six months old – replace them. Try the newer “beam” style wiper blades. Lower profile, fewer moving parts, and more contact points to your windshield. I would still recommend flipping them up when the snow flies.
2: Battery. Have it checked for charge and cranking power – most auto parts stores will provide this as a free service. Look for corrosion on the terminal posts. Easy to clean with water, baking soda, and a toothbrush. Most batteries are advertised as maintenance free, but the truth is you still need to check the fluid levels in many batteries. Pry up the caps on the top of the battery and check the level. It should be just below the bottom of the cap you removed. If it is low, simply fill it ( don’t overfill) with distilled water.
3: Headlights and taillights. Obviously you will be driving in low visibility conditions, and while clean lights might not improve your ability to see drastically, it will improve your visibility to other drivers. Tip for winter – use car wax on you headlights and taillights to improve visibility and keep winter slush from sticking.
4: Tires. After you have insured that your tires are in good condition, make sure you keep them properly inflated. Have you heard the advice that says to slightly deflate your tires for winter driving? Bad idea. Deflating changes the shape of the tire which affects the treads grip on the road. And not in a good way! Since tires will deflate in cold weather, you actually would be better off to slightly over-inflate. Best policy, check the pressure as soon as the temperatures start to drop, and periodically through the winter.
5: Oil viscosity. What? If you live where it gets really cold, you probably already know about this. If not, this can be helpful. Most motor oils (the one that is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer) are meant for all purpose and all season use. Changing your oil to a lower viscosity (weight) in the winter can increase performance and decreases warm-up time and wear on you engine. Check the maintenance and care guide for your vehicle and see if there is a recommendation for winter weight oil.
For those of you that are wondering why I didn’t include anti-freeze, it’s hopefully obvious, and I am now. Check your anti-freeze!
A couple of bonus tips – Keep your windshield washer reservoir full. And you might want to keep an extra jug in the trunk. Have you ever run out wiper fluid when it is really sloppy and you can’t see – yeah, like that.
Always try to keep your gas tank at least half-full. If you get stuck or stranded, your vehicle can run for a long time at idle. If you have gas!
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