Harsh winter conditions can take a toll on your car. If you’re not proactive with winter car care, you may find yourself in a very unpleasant situation on the road. Take steps to help your car get past winter with these tips, tricks, and recommendations.
Dropping temperatures also weakens battery power. Get your car battery checked for sufficient voltage, inspect the charging system, and replace or make system repairs as necessary.
Tip: Clean any corrosion around battery posts and cable connections. If you want your car to start up, a full charged battery in good condition is required in cold weather.
Dropping temperatures lower tire pressure. Tires need to be inspected at least once a month, so keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle. Your car’s tire pressure should meet the manufacturer’s suggested PSI (pounds per square inch) of air pressure (found in your owner’s manual or on the label at the side of the driver’s door). Also check tire tread for uneven wear or if the tread is less than 3/32-inches it’s time for replacements.
Tip: Tire pressure should be checked before hitting the road (when the tire is cold). For the best traction during winter weather, you’ll want snow tires installed. All-seasons tires can also work for light-to-moderate snow conditions.
Replace worn blades on windshield wipers.
When it’s raining, snowing or sleeting, your wipers need to be ready and in good working order. Make sure they are functioning properly and replace dried-out wiper blades. While checking this, also make sure your window defrosters work properly.
Tricks: Prevent your wiper blades from freezing to the windshield by taking a soft cloth soaked with full-strength rubbing alcohol and rub it onto the blades. This will prevent it from sticking to the window. Another option is to keep your wiper blades up.
Check the cooling system.
Look over for leaks, cracks or loose clamps on the cooling system hoses. Maintain the necessary freeze capacity in your tank by adding 50/50 solution of coolant and water.
Tip: If the hose is brittle or has a very spongy feeling when squeezed, it’s a sign to get it replaced. The coolant level should also be checked when the engine is cold.
Check and replenish the washer fluid.
It just takes one snowstorm to drain your washer fluid level, check the level frequently.
Tip: Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent to address winter conditions and to prevent freezing. Also keep the fluid levels full to reduce the chance of freezing.
Get the snow and ice off.
Any snow or ice on your vehicle should be removed before driving. Ensure you have good visibility through your windows and mirrors. Don’t pose a safety hazard with snow or ice falling from your car and blocking your view or others on the road.
Tricks: Prevent an icy windshield by rubbing a raw onion half on the glass the night before. It’ll prevent ice from forming. Another option is to just keep a rubber bath mat over your windshield. For your mirrors, place a plastic bag over them with a rubber band securing it closed and you’ll come back to it ice-free.
Prepare for the unexpected by keeping your vehicle stocked with essentials during the winter season like snow shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter to help you get out when stuck in snow, jumper cables, flashlight, basic tools (screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench), blankets, non-perishable snacks and water.
Photo by Michael Hornak, via Free Images.