Six Tips For Making Your Car Ready For Winter
November is the perfect month to think beyond the normal 3000 mile tune-up and oil change. The freezing temperatures, frigid winds and piles of ice and snow winter brings can wreak havoc on any car. Before the snow falls this winter, schedule an appointment for a free multi-point inspection for the best chance of avoiding larger repairs and even accidents! Here are some things your mechanic will look for—but they’re also things you can pay attention to yourself throughout the cold, winter months.
Keep Proper Tire Pressure
Cold temperatures cause tire pressure to drop, leaving you vulnerable on the road. Forget about the numbers embossed on your sidewalls and go with the pressure rating in your owner’s manual or inside your driver’s side door. These are the manufacturer’s specs specifically for your vehicle.
The experts at Sears Auto Center stress how important it is to have proper tire inflation. Not only does it improve handling during slick conditions, but you’ll also enjoy better gas mileage. As an added benefit, by increasing your tire pressure to appropriate levels, you’ll remove yourself from one of the riskiest group of drivers on the road. Speaking of tires, you might want to consider putting winter tires on your vehicle when the temperature consistently dips below 45 degrees. Learn more about how to find the best snow tires or your vehicle!
Make Sure Your Battery is Charged
Starting a car engine in cold weather can take up to twice as much current as is needed under normal conditions! This is why so many batteries die in the winter. AAA reports a 300 percent increase in the amount of battery-related calls once winter rolls around. That’s no coincidence.
How does cold weather affect car batteries? Cold temperatures slow down the reactions that make batteries work properly. If those reactions are slowed enough, or if your battery is old enough to already face challenges, you may not get enough boost in freezing weather to start your car. Your best bet is to make an appointment for a free battery check before frigid conditions kick in.
Install Quality Windshield Wipers
One of the most significant aspects of safe driving is your ability to see the road clearly. In blowing sleet and snow, that’s not always easy. A quality set of windshield wipers and the right wiper fluid for the temperatures in your area are essential to being safe throughout the coldest, most blustery conditions.
According to Weather.com, special windshield wipers with protective blade covers really do make a difference when the snow falls. You can also find winter fluids specifically created with de-icers to help keep your blades (and vision!) clear. When snow piles on, make sure to keep an eye out for broken blades and replace them as soon as possible.
Change All Car Fluids
All fluids in your vehicle should be updated to deal with cold temperatures. Fresh antifreeze helps your components stay lubricated in subzero conditions and keeps contaminants from marring your radiator, preventing rust and leaks.
A radiator fluid exchange before the season kicks in will also ensure your car has an easier time maintaining the correct temperatures. Fighting the cold while keeping your car’s insides warm is a tough battle, and one that many radiators lose by the time winter is over. Keeping all of your vehicle’s components in good condition can go a long way in preventing risky breakdowns and even accidents.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Or at least close to full. Making sure your gas tank is more than half-full at all times is a cold-weather must! Running low on gas allows moisture to pool in your gas lines. Once this occurs, all it takes is a big temperature drop for your gas lines to freeze. The last thing you want to do is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere (or anywhere for that matter!) in freezing temperatures.
You can buy a commercial additive to pour directly into your tank to help prevent lines from freezing. However, the best way of preventing this common (and frustrating) problem is by simply filling up long before your car is on empty.
Check Steering & Suspension Systems
Winter brings a constant cycle of freezing and thawing, as well as salt and other chemicals designed to melt the snow and ice. This combination can lead to cracks and gaping potholes in the road.
Have your car’s steering and suspension system checked to make sure your shocks and struts haven’t been damaged by uneven road conditions. Potholes can also ravage your car’s alignment. Experts recommend an alignment check every year or 12,000 miles. If you feel your car is pulling to the right or left, bring your car in for an alignment check.
Winter can be a fun, magical season, but it’s also the time of year when you need to be vigilant and proactive when it comes to your vehicle and safely driving in snow. Catching a problem before it starts is always the best way to ensure safe driving for you and your entire family. Before you hit the roads this winter, bring your car into your local Sears Auto Center for a free multi-point inspection.