Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when we were attending June weddings, heading to the beach, and complaining about the humidity? Believe it or not, the snow has already started to fall in some places, and it’s high time to get our cars ready for winter driving.
Many people prefer to bring their car to the dealership for a winter tune-up, and ask their mechanic to take a look at all of the following aspects of automotive readiness. Or you can DIY it, of course, if you know your way around a garage. Either way, it’s important to take care of your car as the temperatures begin dropping and the roads become slick with ice and snow.
Change Your Oil
Unless you’ve had an oil change recently, this is a good time to get the job done. One reason that oil changes are a good automotive maintenance task to take care of at the beginning of winter? It might be time to choose a different type of oil. Temperature changes can affect the viscosity of oil, which in turn can affect the performance of your vehicle. So it makes sense to ensure you’re using a motor oil with the proper viscosity, especially as the temps start to tumble.
Wipers and Blades
Check on your windshield wiper blades as well. If it’s been a year or more since you’ve replaced them, pick up a new set and slide them on. They won’t last or work very well for more than about 12 months — and it’s essential that you are able to clear the snow and ice from your windshield when you’re driving in winter storms!
Fill up your windshield wiper fluid reservoir, too. There are seasonal versions of this, as well — some fluids are designed to resist freezing and to sluice rain, slush, or snow from the windshield more effectively.
While you’re at it, test out your defroster before the day comes when you really need it. You don’t want to find out in the middle of a storm that for some reason, you don’t have the ability to defrost your windshield!
Next, look over your battery. If the connections and posts show any signs of corrosion, or if the battery is more than three years old, have the service techs give it a check. If it is no longer holding a charge like it used to, you guessed it — time for a new battery. But wouldn’t you rather find out now than be stranded in the snow and the cold a month from now?
Most people carry jumper cables in case of a battery failure, but you can also purchase a portable battery charger/jump starter. Having one of these tucked in your trunk will be good for your peace of mind, especially if you frequently travel in rural or deserted areas.
Did you know that as the mercury falls, you lose tire pressure? It’s true. For every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the temperature drops, you can expect to lose one pound psi, or pound per square inch, of pressure.
Check your tire pressure now and double-check that you have a gauge with you. If tires are underinflated, they become even more vulnerable to slipping and sliding in poor winter driving conditions – and therefore to serious accidents.
Of course, you could also opt for snow tires, or “winter tires,” as industry experts prefer to call them. This is an especially wise choice if you live in an area that is more or less snowy for the entire season. Why? Simply put, they offer better traction when there is snow or ice on the roads.
If the weather where you live can sometimes drop a heavy load of snow, but is mainly clear (or rainy) the remainder of the winter, you can probably get away with all-season tires. In certain areas of the country, recent winters have bucked traditional snowfall trends.
For example, Kansas generally receives close to 19 inches of snow per year, but for the past two years, the snowfall totals have been much lower. So it would make sense for Kansas residents to ask Hutchinson KS tire dealers what they would recommend.
Belts and Hoses
When you take your car into the dealership or auto shop for that pre-winter once-over, mention that you would like the mechanic to take a look at the belts and hoses. Cold weather — and simply the passage of time — can deteriorate these.
Lastly, if your car comes with four-wheel drive, have that checked too. After all, you probably haven’t been using it over the summer months! Just make certain that the 4WD system is easy to engage and disengage. And maybe review when to use it with the other drivers in the household.
It doesn’t take much time or money to give your car a little autumn TLC, so that you’re both ready to tackle the winter weather that’s to come! These simple checks, fixes, and tips will help keep everyone safer through the holidays, the new year, and whatever conditions Mother Nature chooses to cook up!