Winter can be a hazardous time for drivers. Strong winds, freezing temperatures, heavy snow, slick wet and icy roads, all working against your car to make traveling an immense challenge. Except, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Prepare yourself for even the harshest winter weather.
Learn how your car can weather winter’s conditions in the tips provided below by DriversLicenseAdvisors.org.
Check Your Antifreeze Level
Fill your engine cooling system with a mixture of distilled water and antifreeze to prevent overheating. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the right amount of mixture. DriversLicenseAdvisors.org advises that you follow your manufacturer's recommendation for flushing and filling the antifreeze for quality performance. Test the mixture yourself by purchasing an antifreeze tester at your local auto-parts shop or have a professional check it at your local auto-repair shop.
Switch to a Winter-Grade Oil
Consult your owner’s manual or talk to your mechanic about switching to a winter-grade engine oil. The colder the weather, the thinner you want your oil to be. You want to switch to an oil with a lower viscosity grade than what you currently have. For example, if your oil’s viscosity grade is 10W-30, a 5W-30 would be more appropriate for colder weather.
Use Winter Windshield Wiper Fluid
Regular windshield winter fluid freezes quickly in winter weather. Avoid an icy and blurry windshield by replacing your wiper fluid with winter fluid. It is designed for colder temperatures and won’t freeze your windshields, but loosen the ice and snow instead.
Inspect or Replace Your Tires
Make sure your tires are inflated, have adequate tread and are rotated and balanced every time you change the vehicle’s oil. The DriversLicenseAdvisors.org team warns you that tires that have low air pressure, are worn or out of balance are extremely dangerous on wet and icy roads. If the winter weather where you live is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, consider exchanging your tires for snow tires. Snow tires have treads that provide better traction and are more equipped for trekking through the snow and ice. If you live where winter weather is relatively mild, invest in all-season tires that you can drive year-round and are equipped for light snow.
Check Your Heater and Defroster
Ensure that all wires are properly connecting and that your heater and defroster are working efficiently. You want to be able to defrost your windshield in the morning without having to scrape the ice off yourself. Make sure that your heating vents are free of blockage so that they can bare the cold weather.
Inspect Your Battery
The cold weather may reduce your battery’s capacity because of your car’s increased use of capabilities. The battery does not recharge as quickly when you drive and if you let your car sit unused for long periods of time, winter will be especially hard on your battery. Check your battery cables for any cracks or breaks and get them replaced if they are. Check your battery fluid by uncovering the refill hole. Refill the hole with distilled water if the level is below the bottom of the cap.
Check Your Breaks
As roads become increasingly slick with snow and ice, you want to make sure your car stops when necessary. You may need to have your brake pads inspected or replaced. Check for any warning signs in your brakes such as squealing, your car pulling to one side when stopping and your car taking longer to stop. DriversLicenseAdvisors.org recommends taking your car to the mechanic to check the brakes as a safety precaution even if you do not experience any warning signs.
Have a Winter Supply Box
Carry a box full of supplies at all times in case of an emergency. Make sure you have essential items such as a jack, lug wrench, first aid kit and road flares all year-round. For winter, DriversLicenseAdvisors.org recommends updating your safety kit with seasonal items that will keep you warm and prepared for Mother Nature’s harshest conditions.
Include the following items in your winter supply box:
- A bag of sand
- Ice scraper and brush
- Small shovel
- Warm clothes