10 Tips to Keep Your Car Road-Ready in the Winter
The winter season is a great time to get your car winter-ready. It’s important that you do some vehicle maintenance before winter begins so you can avoid any problems when the snow starts falling and the temperatures drop below freezing. In this blog, we’ll share 10 winter driving tips with you from our experts at CreditYES® to help keep your car road-ready in the winter.
Tips to winter-proof your vehicle:
Keeping a small toolkit in your vehicle can come in super handy. You never know when a problem will arise and you can’t afford to be without the tools that might save your life or get you out of a sticky situation. At minimum, you should have some jumper cables or a jump box in case of a dead battery, flares for an unexpected breakdown on the road at night (or anytime really), a flashlight, tire chains (if they’re allowed where you live) and a small ratchet/screwdriver set (or multi-tool).
Keep an eye on the windshield wiper fluid. Just like gasoline, “summer blend” washer fluid is much different than what’s needed for colder temperatures. Finding a “winter” blend (which usually contains a percentage of alcohol) will ensure your windshield stays clean – without turning into a solid block or clogging your sprayers when temperatures start dropping below freezing.
On the same topic, you should check that your wipers are in good condition too – even if they’re “all-weather” wipers. If your wiper blades look cracked or worn out, replace them with new ones before winter starts so you’ll have clear vision when snow and sleet begins to accumulate on your windshield.
Batteries don’t like cold weather. Colder winter temperatures can wreak havoc with lead acid car batteries. If you’re noticing any dimming lights or clicking sounds coming from under the hood before winter hits, you’re definitely going to need a new battery before winter. Many auto parts stores offer free battery checks so if your battery is 3 years or older or if you’ve noticed your starter sounds slower, you should get your battery checked before the snow begins to fly.
Be sure to winterize your car’s air filter. This is something that often gets overlooked and can cause problems if you don’t check it before winter storms hit. A clogged or dirty air filter will force the engine to work harder, which means lower fuel economy and a higher likelihood of experiencing some sort of mechanical breakdown while driving on icy roads.
Winterizing fluids like antifreeze and motor oil are essential before cold weather hits. Anti-freeze helps your engine and other vital car parts (like the transmission) function properly in cold winter temperatures, so make sure you check your anti-freeze levels before winter arrives. By keeping it at a good level and making sure the solution is still strong enough to avoid freezing at colder temperatures, you’ll avoid problems like frozen radiators or water pumps that can cause costly damage to your vehicle if they’re not winterized correctly.
You’ll also want to make sure your motor oil is up to par for the colder driving months. If you live in an area that has colder, harsher winters you should check with your car’s manual or ask a mechanic for the recommended winter-weight motor oil – particularly if you live or drive in higher elevations.
Make sure your tires are ready for the winter months. Check to make sure you have enough tread left to make it through the snowy conditions. A good rule of thumb is to use a penny. Stick it between the tread upside down and if you can see all of Abe Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace. You should also be sure your winter tires have a minimum tread depth of around 12/32 in. Be sure to check your owners manual or door panel to see what your vehicle’s proper tire inflation pressures should be – then check each tire to make sure it’s within the specified range.
If you live in an area where ice is a common winter problem, it’s wise to invest in winter car mats and floor liners for maximum winter driving safety. Not only will they offer protection from salt and slush that can cause rusting on the underside of your vehicle (not to mention ruining any nice carpet or upholstery), you can use them to wedge under your tires in an emergency situation.
It’s also a great idea to throw some emergency survival supplies in the trunk. Some cheap disposable handwarmers, a blanket, some shelf-stable food, even water can save your life should you ever find yourself in a situation where you become stranded. Depending on your vehicle, it may also be a good idea to add a bag of cat litter or sand to your survival supplies. Not only can this provide better traction (particularly for rear wheel drive vehicles), but you can spread some down by your tires if you ever find yourself stuck.
Check your owner’s manual for winter car tips specific to the year, make and model of your vehicle. You may also want to consult a trusted mechanic or two for some winter driving advice that you might not find in any book. If you’re thinking about getting a new vehicle in time for the winter months, CreditYES® can help! Pre-qualify in just two minutes and get the vehicle you want before the weather turns cold.