Winter is upon us, and as the leaves begin to fall from the trees, everyone should make sure their car is ready for the winter weather. Trust me, checking a few boxes on your “to do” list will likely save you a headache down the road.
If you haven’t done so, we highly recommend washing and waxing your car before leaving it outside in freezing temperatures. Ice and snow can easily clog nooks and crannies around your vehicle which could cause it not to start or run properly when needed.
This is also a perfect time to fill up on gas as well as check tire pressure and tread depth for optimal performance during those long winter commutes. We’re not saying you need new tires each winter, but checking the condition of them ahead of time will save you money down the road compared
Here’s a list of things you should do before winter weather sets in:
-Check your tire pressure. Too little air pressure and too much weight makes for a difficult stopping distance, potential hydroplaning, and a rougher ride. Too much air pressure will wear down the tires more quickly. Remember that tire pressure changes with temperature!
-Inspect your battery fluid levels – if they’re low, add distilled water to the reservoir until it is at the correct level. This ensures you can start your car regardless of how cold it is outside.
-Lubricate any locks or latches which stick or are hard to open/close (e.g.. trunk release). Removing ice from these compartments in your car is a huge pain.
-Check your wiper blades and make sure they are in peak condition. You don’t want to be caught off guard with a torn wiper blade during the storm of the century.
-Fill up on windshield washer fluid, you’ll need it.
– Inspect hoses under engine bay for cracks/tears/weak spots and replace them if necessary. Remember: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it! Hoses may become brittle or cracked over time, causing leaks or worse yet – hoses completely break down while driving!
-Inspect your fan belt for any damage, cracks or missing chunks out of the rubber.. If you notice a problem with a fan belt while prepping your vehicle, it’s best to get this fixed ASAP before it goes completely and leave you stranded.
-Battery terminals may become corroded over time and cause problems starting your car in the winter weather. These can be cleaned with a wire brush or sandpaper if they’re loose – we suggest visiting an auto parts store for replacement terminals if yours are severely corroded/rusty.
-Check windshield wipers for cracking, tearing, or missing pieces of rubber (replace them). Inspect wiper fluid reservoir and make sure it is full (if not add washer fluid).
-Replace cabin air filter every 15k miles; inspect all filters (air, oil, fuel) and replace as necessary. If your engine is running rough during the first start of the day, you might have a clogged fuel filter.
-If your brake fluid is more than two years old (or 5 if it’s not DOT 3/4), change it with fresh fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture which will lower the boiling point of the liquid.. This could lead to failure in worst case scenarios.
-Check your engine fluids; motor oil, transmission fluid, and coolant (remember: overfilled and underfilled transmissions can cause problems). These specific liquids should be replaced every 30k miles or depending on how often you drive (for example: daily driver = every 15k miles). If it’s time for an oil change, also recommend changing your air filter.
-Is your exhaust system in good condition? Give it a quick visual inspection for any leaks or damage.. If there are any problems take your car to an exhaust specialist – this could block catalytic converters which lead to expensive repairs down the road.
-If you have wheel locks, check them and replace if necessary. Wheel locks keep your rims from spinning off so be sure they’re installed properly! Don’t want them coming loose during winter driving..
-Check battery terminals and tighten or clean as necessary (if corroded/dirty). Make sure all electrical components such as headlights work correctly. To prevent corrosion on your battery terminals, cover them with grease or petroleum jelly.
-If you have a navigation system, make sure it is in working order before heading off to work. If there are any problems take it in for repairs/replacement. A dead navigation system leaves YOU stranded!
-Salt and sand your driveway if necessary (if melting snow will not be sufficient).
In closing, make sure to give your vehicle a thorough checkup before winter driving!
Any problems found should be fixed as soon as possible; if you’re unsure what’s wrong with the car, don’t hesitate to take it in for repairs.
Preparing your car is no laughing matter – there are all sorts of things that could go wrong and leave you stranded.. Don’t wait until last minute and find yourself stuck in a blizzard without heat or unable to get out of the house.
Don’t forget: Always prepare for the worst, hope for the best!
Good luck and stay safe during this winter season.