The comfort and convenience of a car provides a wonderful means to wend your way through winter, but it’s easy to take its reliability for granted as you set off into the elements. Even modern cars appreciate some help to get through the season in good health, so here are seven ways to give your vehicle a hand.
1. Check your tires, and change if necessary
After summer and fall, tires start to feel a little deflated at this cooler time of year, so check their pressure against the recommended levels located on the sticker in the door jamb and give them some air if needed. Check the tread, too, bearing in mind snow and ice may be in the offing, and change any that are worn out. Depending on where you are in the country, or where you’re going, consider winter tires and even investing in a set of snow chains to have more control.
2. Change the washer fluid
Put a winter mix of washer fluid in the washer reservoir to help clear your windshield and prevent ice forming while driving in the cold. Winter washer fluid contains an antifreeze that can melt ice and keep your view unobstructed.
3. Replace wiper blades
Take a look at your wiper blades for wear before bad weather hits and replace any on their way out. If they’re leaving streaks on the windshield as they sweep across, it’s time for a fresh set.
4. Get together some everyday essentials
Purchase the items you’re most likely to need when you switch on and warm up the car in the morning, such as an ice scraper, snow brush and a can of deicer. In some states it’s illegal to drive with a covering of snow and ice still on the vehicle, including that layer on the roof which may later slide down and engulf your windshield.
5. Check the battery
There’s never a good time for a battery to fail but it could be particularly inconvenient in the dead of winter. Batteries typically last three to five years, and with winter driving placing extra demands upon them including greater use of the heater and electronics, it could be worth having yours tested to avoid a surprise. Many auto parts shops will check a battery for free.
6. Give it a good clean
A thorough clean, and ideally a wax, will help defend your car against the snow, rain, gritting salt and dirt that winter can throw at it. These things can dull the paint and lead to rust. Clean headlamps will improve your visibility and ability to be seen by other drivers.
7. Pack an emergency kit
In the event you break down or get stuck in the snow, you’ll be thankful for some well-chosen emergency supplies. Think about stowing away jumper cables, a flashlight, shovel, blanket, mobile phone charger, food and water, just in case.
Whether you’re traveling near or far over the winter, preparing for a new set of driving conditions is simple to do and will help you stay on track through the season.