Winter driving can be a nightmare. Rain, snow, icy conditions and low visibility can make even a short trip nerve-wracking. I always tell my kids not to talk to me when I’m driving on snowy roads – I need all my attention for making sure we don’t slide off the road, which means there’s none left for refereeing “he’s touching me!” arguments. I don’t know a lot about cars, so the idea of “winterizing” my vehicle is always a little intimidating for me, but it’s really not as difficult as it seems. Here are 7 tips for getting your car ready for winter weather:
1. Check your tires! During the winter it’s critical you don’t drive around with bald tires – you’re going to need all the traction you can get. I’ve never been able to tell if I need new tires just by looking at them, so I was glad to find out there’s a simple way to tell if your tires have enough tread left: hold a penny head down in the center tread. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, you have less than 2/32-inch tread and it’s time for new tires. If the top of his head is covered, you’re good for now.
Also be sure to your tires are properly inflated optimum handling, safety, and fuel efficiency. My kids loves checking the tire pressure and putting in air at the gas station.
2. Maintain a car wash routine. I usually skip car washes in the winter because I know the car will just get dirty again quickly, but it turns out it’s even more important to wash your car in the winter than summer. Just think of all the ice, salt and sand on the roads that get splashed up onto your car every time you drive! Getting a car wash and a fresh coat of wax before the temperature begins to drop can be your first line of defense against winter elements.
3. Check the battery. Cold weather can take a toll on your car’s battery, and the last thing you want is to get stranded as a result. Check the cables, terminals and fluid and look for anything abnormal. For me, this means heading to a battery retailer who will check everything for me.
4. Get an oil change. Oil lubricates the engine so it can function properly, but not all automobile oil is the same. If you live in an area where temperatures dip below freezing, consider switching to a thinner, less viscous oil, like 5W-30.
While you’re there, ask your car technician to change the engine coolant to one with ethylene glycol which has antifreeze properties. I don’t know what that means, but the peeps at the car place will. 🙂 Also ask the technician to make sure all fluids are topped off.
5. Replace old wiper blades to make sure they’ll work when you need them.
You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of window washer solution on hand, and always carry a scraper and clear your car of snow and ice thoroughly before driving! Snow and ice on top of your car can pose a deadly threat to other drivers if it flies on while you’re on the road – snow can blind drivers behind you and ice can actually break right through windshields.
6. Replace any dirty filters to keep the engine running as efficiently as possible. I actually learned how to replace the cabin air filter last year – I couldn’t believe how easy it was and I was pretty grossed out by the old one I removed!
7. Finally, carry a car emergency kit. Make sure you always have some extra blankets and gloves in the back of the car in case you get stranded in the winter weather, and if you live in a snowy area a pair of snow boots is also a good idea. Gather up the following items as well: flares, a small shovel and sand or kitty litter to provide traction if you’ve slipped into snow, a flashlight and extra batteries, an extra car charger for your cell phone, and some snacks.