There is no doubt that winter driving is more of a challenge. The snow and ice of winter can turn a dry road into a slippery skating rink in a matter of minutes, creating a safety hazard and an increase in traffic accidents.
The danger is even greater if your car is not ready for the rigors of winter driving. Underinflated tires could reduce your traction even more, and worn-out windshield wipers could hinder your ability to see the road ahead. That is why it is important to get your vehicle in shape for winter driving before the first snowflakes start falling.
Consider Winter Tires
If you live in an area with lots of winter storms, you should consider a set of snow tires. All-weather tires are fine in most conditions, but they may not have the traction needed for heavy snow and ice.
Changing the tires can be a hassle, but you will only have to do it once each season. If you invest in a quality set of snow tires, they could last for several winters, and the peace of mind will be well worth the extra cost.
Change Your Wiper Blades
Chances are your wiper blades will be doing a lot more work once the ice and snow starts flying. All that snow and ice can really take a toll on old wiper blades, and you cannot afford to have an obstructed windshield during a snowstorm.
Even if your wiper blades are fairly new, you should replace them before winter arrives. Wiper blades are inexpensive and easy to change, so there is really no reason not to give them a winter upgrade. While you are at it you might want to pick up windshield washer fluid with low temperature properties built in. Regular washer fluid can freeze up in extreme conditions, and that could hamper your visibility and create an expensive repair.
Check Your Battery
If you cannot remember the last time you changed your car’s battery, this vital part of your starting system may be nearing the end of its life. Most batteries are designed to last between 3 and 5 years, so check the sticker to see when it was installed and how long it is expected to go.
Most battery manufacturers place a sticker on the top or side to make this assessment easier. If you cannot find that sticker, you may have to go through your records to see when the battery was first installed. If you do not have the records, you can always have your mechanic or the local automotive retailer test the battery to see how much life it has left. Either way, testing the battery now can prevent a troublesome breakdown later.
Top Off Your AntiFreeze
Be sure to check your antifreeze frequently both before winter and during. Find the antifreeze reservoir and check the level carefully. Top off the reservoir if the level is low, then check it again in a couple of days.
If the antifreeze level is low again, you have a leak somewhere – one that you need to address before the weather gets cold. Take the car to your mechanic and have them look for the leak, then keep an eye on the antifreeze level throughout the winter driving season.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure can fall dramatically in cold weather, so now is the time to make sure all four tires are properly inflated. Going into winter with under-inflated tires is just asking for trouble, so take a few minutes to check the pressure.
If the tire pressure is low, inflate each tire to the manufacturer recommendations. Check the tire pressure again each time you fill your fuel tank and top off the air if needed.
There is still time to get your car in shape for winter driving. Take a few minutes to check your vehicle and make sure it is ready for the challenges of winter. You will be glad you took the time when the snow and ice start to fall.