As it starts to get colder and winter continues to progress, it is important to make sure both you and your car are ready to weather any storm. Follow these tips and tricks from Protect My Car to ensure you stay safe and your car stays in great condition.
Keep Up Your Routine Vehicle Maintenance
- Every car is different, so check with your manufacturer to not only ensure that your car is up to date with oil changes, but that you are also using the correct type of oil. As the temperate drops, oil becomes thicker which could potentially ruin your engine if you do not allow the oil to move through the engine and warm up before hitting highway speeds. An estimated 1-3 minutes of allowing your engine to warm up before you hit normal speeds (30-45 mph) and driving for about 10 minutes before you hit highway speeds can help the oil move around the way it should be, within your engine. This can make it that much more important to make sure that your vehicle will continue to work correctly and function at its highest performance during the winter months.
- While it is smart to keep your battery in good condition year-round, it is especially important during winter. Blizzards can be stressful enough, the last thing you want is for your battery to stop working. To prevent this from happening, make sure your battery fluid, battery cables, and battery terminals are in good condition. Some cars come equip with a sort of padding around the battery to help insulate it from those harsh temperatures, so it’s good to check to make sure that the padding is in the right position and isn’t getting raggedy.
- Everyday use can cause wear and tear on your belts and hoses, as well as your spark plugs. Wear and tear can happen to cars of any age, so no matter how new your car is, you should check the condition of its parts before something unexpectedly fails and you get caught in a storm.
- Checking the fluid levels in your car is a must, especially during the winter months. Antifreeze, or coolant, works to keep your radiator from freezing in cold weather, which is vital if you live in a region with harsh winters. Generally, having a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze is a good way to prevent your car from freezing, though you should check your manufacturer or vehicle owner’s manual for the exact mixture tailored to your specific car.Ensure that your windshield is safe
Ensure Your Windshield Is Safe
- Another fluid level you need to stay on top of is wiper fluid. While many can forget about wiper fluid, especially during the winter months when many people often have a million things on their mind, keeping your windshield in prime condition is important. Windshield wiper blades are another very important feature as well, as they are obviously vital in helping you see. The last thing you want is for it to flurry and you can’t clear your windshield correctly. Wiper blades typically last for one year, so if you have not replaced them lately you should consider replacing them.
- Beyond the actual maintenance, it is also important to know how to defog and defrost your windshield. The first step, after turning on your car and letting it warm up, is to turn on the fan and air conditioning. You want to select the warmest option available and turn the controls up to the maximum. If you want to quickly remove exterior frost or ice from your windshield, you can select the button on your car that directs all the air to the base of the windshield. You can also physically remove the snow and ice from your windshield with a safe, trusted, car ice scraper.
Check Your Tires
- Tires are an incredibly important part of any car, for obvious reasons. From tire tread to tire pressure, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to driving during snow. Therefore, it is vital to care for your tires properly so that you can drive safely. The first thing to check is your tire pressure. While it can easily be overlooked, constantly checking that you have the correct, manufacturer recommended, tire pressure is a key part of staying safe. As the temperate decreases, the pressure in your tires goes down (approximately 1 pound per square inch is lost every time the temperature outside goes down 10 degrees Fahrenheit), so checking tire pressure is especially important for those who live in areas with the constantly fluctuating weather.
- If you live in a region where winter is especially harsh, you should strongly consider snow tires. Snow tires improve traction greatly, which can be lifesaving when you are driving on snow or ice. While there is a downside to snow tires (the financial side to buying tires and the storage of your summer tires), the safety outweighs anything else. In fact, most manufacturers suggest getting snow tires during winter because they are proven to be safer, so anyone who may need them should, at the very least, consider getting snow tires for your car.
- Four-wheel drive is a feature in most cars that can be extremely useful, but one that is often underutilized. Most drivers don’t use four-wheel drive in other seasons, but it can be extremely helpful for countless occasions in the winter time. Therefore, you should not only look to see if your car has four-wheel-drive, but you should also check if the system is working correctly and efficiently, and learn when to use it.
- Learning how to use for wheel-drive, as well as just simply knowing how to drive in the snow, are very important skills to learn, skills that could save your life and the lives of your passengers.
Prepare For The Worst Case Scenario
Always have an emergency kit in your car during the winter months, and be sure the following are included:
- A blanket and a change of warm clothes, boots, and other winter gear such as gloves and hats, especially if you live in a very cold area
- Extra food and water
- A first aid kit
- A flashlight
- Jumper cables
- A toolkit
- Windshield wiper fluid, a new set of windshield wipers, and an ice scraper
- A small shovel
- A spare tire with air in it, a tire gauge, and tire changing equipment
- Tire chains and a bag of either sand, salt, or non-clumping kitty litter, all of which can be used for traction if your car gets stuck
Additional Tips and Tricks
- Don’t boil water and put it on your windshield, this could crack the glass. Instead, use an ice scraper specially designed for your windshield to slowly chip away at any ice, snow, or frost, while you simultaneously heat up your car and warm the windshield.
- You can put diesel kerosene in your gas tank to ensure that the diesel doesn’t get too thick during those harsh temperatures.
- Don’t forget to clear the snow off the top of your car! After a storm, snow can easily amass atop your vehicle, and if you drive with snow on your roof you are at risk of getting a ticket and endangering those around you (just think of the snow flying off onto your windshield or someone else’s).