Depending on where you live, winter car prep may just mean turning the key. However, if you’re facing ice, snow or cold temperatures, you will need to review the condition of your car to make sure you’re not at risk of an accident or of being stranded.
Bald tires or tires that are too worn to hold their air pressure consistently are a serious risk in the wintertime. If you have to drive in snow, bald tires will not clear well and you will be at risk of a skid. For regions that get a lot of rain in the winter, tires with little tread risk can also be at risk of sliding. Finally, changing a worn-out flat tire is difficult enough without having to handle a cold, slushy tire on a slippery roadway. Even if you don’t need snow tires on at least two of your wheels, fall is a good time to update worn tires.
If your battery is nearing the end of its life or if you notice your car is cranking slowly, get the battery checked out. If the battery is good, get the alternator checked out. A dead battery in the wrong part of town or during a bad storm turns from an inconvenience into a dangerous situation that’s just not worth the risk. The updates and repairs you need to make to keep your car starting consistently are simple but critical.
Coolant levels can drop in the summertime. If your radiator was topped off during the summer and you’re facing freezing temperatures soon, get the coolant checked to make sure it’s the right mix. Radiator fluid with too much water in it can freeze solid and expand enough to damage your engine. By getting your radiator flushed and refilled, you can keep your engine safely cool no matter how hot next summer gets. If you notice a continual decline in coolant, you probably have a leak somewhere. The less coolant in your radiator, the less heat it can tolerate. Get it checked out before your coolant boils away and your engine gets cooked.
Wiper Blades and Windshield Fluid
Spatter from snow, salt and gravel on the road can turn your windshield into a gooey mess. Keep your washer fluid topped up and invest in new wiper blades. There are several videos on YouTube about the easiest way to do this and it’s a simple fix, so give it a try. Worn wiper blades will take several passes to clear your windshield, but new blades will conform well to the glass and make it easier for you to see much more quickly. It’s important to note that your wiper blades don’t wear out just when they’re in use. The material that is used to make wiper blades gets stiff and brittle as it ages and simply doesn’t cling well to the glass. When they’re worn or old, they’re not safe.
Finally, when the weather gets very bad stay home if at all possible. If you can’t stay home, do your best to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination and plenty of space between you and the car ahead. Know where the snow routes are in your city so you know which roads are likely to be cleared first.