Winter is fast approaching, and while your mind might be on Thanksgiving dinner or holiday shopping, it’s important not to forget about preparing your car for the winter season. Following a few easy steps in advance can help keep your car safe and reliable in the face of the harsh conditions up ahead.
1. Pre-winter Maintenance: A quick check of your vehicle’s basic systems can go a long way in the wintertime. Get your oil changed, top off fluids, check your coolant system, and make sure all exterior lights are functioning. Attention to regular maintenance is a good idea for your car any time of year, but is especially important for seasons with more extreme conditions and temperatures.
2. Check Your Battery: A car battery can die without any notice, and extremely cold temperatures can reduce a car battery’s life by up to 50 percent. Get your battery tested, and replace it if recommended. When it comes to your car starting, you don’t want to take any chances.
3. Inspect Your Tires: Make sure your tires have adequate tread and replace them if necessary. Follow your manufacturer or mechanic’s recommendations for tire rotation, balancing, and tire pressure. You’ll want your tires at optimum performance level when it comes to navigating over slushy, icy roads. Be sure to check the pressure in your spare tire as well.
4. Check Your Wipers and Washer Fluid: Your windshield wipers and washer fluid are one of your first lines of defense when driving through snow, sleet and other wintry precipitation. Be sure your wipers are in good condition, and consider upgrading to blades made for the winter season. Also ensure your washer fluid reservoir is kept full at all times, and keep a jug in your trunk as a backup.
5. Pack an Emergency Kit: In the event that you do get stuck out in the elements, having essential supplies on hand could make a huge difference. Keep the following items in your trunk in case of an emergency: Blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, matches, flares, jumper cables, bottled water, energy bars, and a small shovel. You never know when you may need them!