Winter is Coming: A Guide to Prepping Your Car For the Colder Months
Whether we like it or not, winter is here. That means long nights, cold mornings, and cars that don’t want to start. Aside from checking your antifreeze (that’s engine coolant for those in warmer climates), there are a lot of things you can do to get your car prepped for winter. Here, we’ll go over a few easy things you can do to get your car ready for the winter.
Check Your Fluids
To get started on cold weather preparations, you’ll need to check your fluids. Make sure your radiator is filled properly with antifreeze. You’ll also want to ensure you’re using the right ratio of antifreeze to water. Keep in mind that too much water can reduce the effectiveness of your antifreeze.
Talk to your mechanic about what kind of oil you should be using during colder months, too. Some auto technicians recommend using a thinner oil when the temperature dips below freezing. While not all cars require thinner oil, it’s always a good idea to speak to a professional before changing it yourself.
Check Your Battery
When your car is cold, your battery is cold too. During the colder months, your car battery may have a hard time providing the spark you need to start your engine. That’s why an important part of car prep for the winter includes regularly checking your battery, including the cables and terminals.
Help make your battery more effective by ensuring the cables don’t have cracks or breaks. The terminal should have a clean, secure connection. If your battery terminals appear corroded you can clean it with a wire brush and a mixture of baking soda and water. Carefully disconnect the battery before cleaning and ensure that it’s completely dry before re-attaching cables.
Check Your Tires
Winter brings snow, sleet, freezing rain, ice, and black ice—all of which can create hazardous road conditions.
Aside from those precipitation-related concerns, cold weather can cause the PSI (pounds per square inch) of your tires to fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to check the PSI regularly. Remember that tires with low air pressure or worn treads can be dangerous on winter roads.
Pack a Snow Kit
When you’re undergoing car prep for the winter months, you should remember to pack an emergency snow kit. While you should always have an ice scraper/brush and a small shovel handy for those snowy mornings, it’s important to have some essentials on-hand in the event of an emergency on-the-road. Your safety kit should include:
- One or more space blankets
- One or more flashlights with spare batteries
- Kitty Litter - For traction under tires if you get stuck
- A spare beanie and a pair of gloves
- A Road Flare
An emergency kit only takes a few minutes to put together and can be forgotten about once it’s safely in your trunk. Hopefully, you won’t need to use it, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.
No one knows your commute and the weather conditions you face better than you. Aside from our winter car prep tips, there are a number of cautionary steps and measures you can take to ensure your safety on the road. You may want to include jumper cables, sandbags for added weight in older, rear wheel drive vehicles, and emergency ready-to-eat food and beverage supplies in your trunk.
The next few months can create difficult driving conditions for many of us. However, a little car prep for the winter can ensure you have a safe commute this season.