Five Tips To Ready Your Car for Winter

September 21, 2010

For most of us, the first snow fall is still a few months away, give or take, but we always seem unprepared when the first batch starts falling.  Preparing now can save you time and money in the future. Here are a few tips to help you prepare your vehicle to be in top condition for when the white stuff begins to fall. 

1.  Wiper Blades
One of the worst scenarios when driving in extreme winter weather conditions is losing visibility. Living in Michigan has taught me the importance of quality wiper blades. Ice and snow build up can smear your windshield making it near impossible to see the road in front of you, especially at night. Blades like the TRICO NeoForm blades are a good fit. They lack a good portion of the metal structure found on most common blades and hence reduces ice buildup. This is also a good time to top of your washer fluid reservoir. 

2.  Tires
Once you are able to see where you are going, the next step is to get there. You can only do that if you have traction to help get you through the worst of it. Checking tire pressure, tread depth across the entire tire, and looking for unusual structural imperfections like bulging in the sidewalls, are important to guarantee your tires are in good working order. Tread depth will help you gain traction needed in slippery situations and can be easily measured with the penny test.   Structural imperfections may cause a catastrophic tire failure. If you notice cracking, bulging, or inadequate tread depth, replace the tires as soon as possible. 

3.  Battery
We all know when electronic devices get cold; they work a little slower than normal because the batteries have a difficult time keeping a current. This also goes for car batteries as well. Every battery has a rating called CCA, or cold cranking amps. This is the amount of current a battery can provide at 0oF for thirty seconds while maintaining 7.2 volts with a 12 volt battery. What’s the simplest way to guarantee you purchase a battery with decent CCA? The higher the CCA number, the better the cold start performance. Also you should check the overall quality of your battery. If it is more than four years old, have it checked. AutoZone and Advanced Auto both perform free battery checks. Make sure it’s pumping out 12 volts or you may be stranded and faced with deadly consequences.

4.  Coolant System
This is something many people don’t think is a winter issue, seen as how most associate “coolant” with fighting off the summer heat. The main issues with coolant systems during the winter months is the constant expanding and contracting when going from hot to cold and the affect it has on brittle hoses. In the winter months hoses are more likely to crack, belts fray more easily, and thermostat issues may become more apparent. A complete system check every three years is recommended for optimal performance.

5.  Emergency Kit
Pack your car as if you were preparing for the worst, and no you cannot shove the snow blower in the back seat. Heavy duty gloves, sweaters, and hats are all recommended just in case you are stuck digging yourself out of a snow bank. An ice scrapper and a small, compact shovel can be life savers. Also have a pair of jumper cables handy, not for you because you were smart and had your battery check, but for your fellow person if they are caught in a predicament. Try and keep the fuel take over half full in case you and a few snack in case you are stuck in traffic, that way you won’t run out of heat or something to munch on. Another tip, carry a little cash because not everywhere accepts plastic.

Well there you have it, some helpful tips to make sure you stay out of ditch and a few pointers just in case you get stuck. Now you’ll be prepared for the worst your state has to throw at you this winter, unless you live in Hawaii, then most of the Northeast will hate you for five months out of the year.   

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