With winter weather just around the corner – and on some nights, already here! – one major cause for concern many people have is how well their car will handle the cold and snow. Whether you have a brand-new vehicle or you’re still driving around in “ol’ reliable”, check out our pre-winter car care checklist so that you are fully prepared for the worst Jack Frost has to offer!
Check Your Tire Pressure/Tire Condition
The easiest – and first – item you should check off of your list is making sure your tires are at the proper pressure and your treads do not have significant wear. Typically tire pressure decreases one PSI per ten degrees decrease in outside air temperature, so be sure to check early and often to make sure tire pressure is at the recommended manufacturer’s levels. Also, check your tires to see if they are worn or “bald” with a simple trick: Take a penny and stick it in a tread groove with the Lincoln Memorial facing you. If none of the building is covered by the tire, you probably should get new ones.
Check and Change Oil
Cold weather could cause old motor oil to thicken, which could cause a breakdown or other issues during the winter months. Make sure to check your oil a few times throughout the winter, and the cost of an oil change is much less than having to get your car repaired if you run into a major issue.
Get Your Wipers Ready
Between rain, snow, sleet, and debris from roads like sand and salt, having your wiper blades and fluid in top shape is important for the winter. Fill up your fluid and check it monthly, and make sure your blades are not worn and are functioning properly.
Power Up Your Battery
Checking your battery – and replacing it if you haven’t in a while – can be a big help in preventing you to get stuck out in the freezing cold waiting for a jump. Cars require some extra juice from their batteries to start in the cold weather (thanks science!), so ensuring your fluids are filled, terminals are not cracked or worn, and you have cables in your car will help you stay in charge.
Keep a Kit (or some Kitty) in the Car
Speaking of jumper cables, you should have a full winter kit ready to go in your car. This includes but is not limited to: a first aid kit, blanket, gloves, road flare, jack, flashlight, shovel, ice scraper/snow brush, bottled water, and rock salt or sand to help with any traction issues. Another great tool for getting tire traction in rough conditions that you may have lying around the house? Kitty Litter!
Finally, if you ever have any concerns about your car during the winter, make sure to bring it to a mechanic that you trust. And drive safe!