Winter’s wet and icy roads can pose a great danger to drivers, and those who take their cars out on the road without the proper preparation will be in particular danger. In order to help you stay safe out there when the cold weather comes, SpareFoot has put together the following guide detailing the steps you should take so that you’re prepared for winter driving.
Everything You Need to Know About Preparing Your Car for Winter
Whether you recently moved for the first time to an area that experiences severe winter weather, or you are planning a road trip to a cold weather region, you will want to take all of the precautions you can to prevent a breakdown or an accident.
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1. Check Your Tires.
Wet or icy roads are dangerous! Make sure you have adequate tread on your tires and check that the air pressure inside your tire is at the correct level. Tire treads should be at a minimum of 5/32″ when driving on snow to prevent slipping. If you live in an area that sees a high amount of snowfall, consider snow tires, which are made of resistant rubber and have deeper tire treads.
2. Change Your Oil.
Cold temperatures cause oil to thicken, which can prevent it from lubricating your engine, causing damage. Fill your engine with an oil of lower viscosity. The number before the W represents viscosity, so 5W-30 has a lower viscosity than 10W-40. Check your owner’s manual for the right type. So if you haven’t gotten an oil change recently, be sure to take care of that before the dead of winter.
3. Wax Your Car.
Moisture and road salt are a corrosive combination, and will eat away at your paint. Since paint protects your car’s body, once it’s gone the aluminum underneath can become damaged. Giving your car a wax job is the best way to protect it from corrosive materials.
4. Switch Out Wiper Blades.
Regular wiper blades struggle with snow and ice. Switch to winter wiper blades to ensure visibility. Windshield wiper fluid can freeze and will be unable to spray. Switch to a winter washer fluid that won’t freeze. Check with your local auto parts store to see what is available, and in many cases they will install them for you for no extra charge.
5. Inspect Belts & Hoses.
It never hurts to take your car in for a tune-up, particularly just before the hard winter months. Make sure your engine’s belts and hoses are in good condition. These become more brittle in the cold and are more likely to snap or break when the temperature drops.
6. Add Anti-Freeze.
Your car’s coolant system isn’t there just to keep your engine from overheating: it also prevents interior corrosion. If your coolant freezes, your engine could be damaged. Replace your coolant with one that has a proper mix of antifreeze and water (50/50).
7. Keep Your Tank Full.
During the winter, moisture can build up in your gas tank and corrode the metal inside. If this moisture freezes, you could experience heavy damage. Prevent this by always keeping your tank above half full. The gasoline will absorb any moisture before it builds up.
Things you Should Pack in Your Car During the Winter
- Gloves- Will make using everything else that much easier. There is a reason your car has a glove box after all!
- Ice scraper- Easily scrap the ice off your windshield rather than waiting for it to thaw.
- Small shovel- Helps clear paths and remove snow that can accumulate on your vehicle
- Tire chains- Used to gain traction on those icy roads, these are only a must if you frequently drive on unplowed roads.
- Kitty litter, road salt, or sand- all three are de-icers that will help thaw the snow on the road and provide traction if you get stuck.
- Extra batteries- Having an extra car battery isn’t a bad idea, as winter weather can sap the juice from one that is near the end of its life.
- Emergency kit- An emergency kit should include a safety vest, flares, first aid supplies and anything else you need incase you find your self stuck on the side of the road.