While you are breaking out the heavy coats and hats, it’s important not to forget that your vehicle needs winter TLC, too. Testing your car’s battery, lubing weather stripping, and considering switching to winter tires will have you better prepared for the winter season. Beyond the mechanical considerations, take this opportunity to also review cheap auto insurance so you can maintain a thorough, inexpensive policy to help get you through the diciest of all the seasons.
Test Your Car Battery
It’s easy to forget about the car battery. It is generally very reliable – until it isn’t, and you’re stranded somewhere. Don’t wait until your car battery fails to figure out if it can withstand the cold winter.
Checking the battery with a computerized battery tester will give you a heads up if it needs to be replaced. It will check the internal resistance, conductance, and voltage to give you an idea as to the battery’s overall condition.
If you’d rather not test it yourself, take it to your trusted mechanic so they can quickly evaluate the charge and the expected life of the battery. If the voltage is in question, don’t hesitate to get the battery replaced.
Put a Winter Emergency Kit Together
The last thing you want is to be stranded, isolated and without any gear to help you out in that situation. You can easily buy a kit online or put one together yourself. The kit should include:
- Reflective Triangles
- Cat Litter (for traction)
- Portable snow shovel and ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Phone charger
Lubricate the Window Tracks
Precipitation can seep into window tracks and wreak havoc on the system. You can save yourself hundreds of dollars in repairs by lubricating the window tracks with Teflon or silicone spray lubricant. With the window down, spray the lubricant into the front and back track. Operate the window a few times to ensure that it is spreading along the entirety of the track. Simply use a paper towel and glass cleaner to remove lubricant from the window.
Lubricate the Door Locks
Whether you have keyless entry or not, you’ll want to keep the door locks lubricated so they don’t corrode. Key fob batteries do die (eventually) and Murphy’s Law dictates that day will be the one when your locks are frozen (or corroded) shut. You can use graphite lock or dry Teflon spray lubricant to shoot into the lock cylinder.
Watch Your Tires
Ultimately, it’s your tires that see you through the winter so you’ll want to make sure they are in good operating condition. Cold air causes air pressure in tires to decrease, so make a point to check the pressure regularly and inflate to the car manufacturer’s specifications. Failing to do this will cause a decrease in gas mileage and it will wear out your tires faster.
Tire tread is also of the upmost importance. Ideally, winter tires would be best so you can maintain the most control of your vehicle on snowy roads. At the very least, be sure your tires have adequate tread. The deeper the tread the better and if you do the penny test and can see Lincoln’s face (upside down) you’ll want to consider getting new tires altogether.
Get Brakes Inspected
At the start of the season, get your brakes inspected and then again midway through the winter. Salt and moisture can cause rotors to rust, and will reduce your ability to brake effectively. If you notice any noises, grinding or anything different when operating your brakes, get them looked at immediately.
Replace the Wiper Blades & Watch the Washer Fluid
Wiper blades are really no match for the beast that is winter. With sleet, snow, and ice falling all of the time, wiper blades are asked to do a lot. If your blades are already skipping or smudging, replace them right away.
As anyone who has driven through a blustery day knows, you go through a lot of windshield wiper fluid in the winter time. Keep the reservoir filled and keep an extra gallon of washer fluid in the car, just in case you run out. Driving without washer fluid when you need it is dangerous as it limits (if not completely eliminates) visibility.
Keep the Gas Tank Half Full
Keeping the gas tank half full or more will reduce condensation buildup in the tank. This will prevent future issues and it will also make your car easier to start in the morning. Bonus, you’ll also spend less time stopping for and getting gas on those bitterly cold days.
Don’t forget that your vehicle needs winter TLC. The change in weather conditions creates new obstacles and new challenges for every vehicle and getting ahead of them will keep you and your car in good shape.