As winter peeks around the corner, we tend to start getting the coats, boots and mittens out of the storage box in the closet. We are trying to make sure we are ready for those colder days. Your auto needs to be prepared for those blistering cold days as well. Getting stranded out in the cold, on an early January morning, is not the description of fun. Your vehicle has to be safe and dependable. If you have not kept up with your auto maintenance, now would be the time to change your pattern. Winter is the worst time to encounter problems. Oil changes, brake repair, heater and radiator check, tire replacement and a complete maintenance check, is more important now, than any other time of the year.
One of the first things to get checked to be prepared for the winter is your radiator. How much antifreeze is in there? Keeping the proper level of antifreeze in the radiator not only keeps your heater producing warm air, it protects the hoses, engine and radiator from freezing. Freezing can totally render your motor useless. If you notice that you are not getting warm when your heater is running, you could be low on antifreeze or you could have a thermostat issue. Another great idea for preparing for the winter months is to get a cooling system check. Many auto repair shops run specials during the first months of winter for this service. Check your local reputable shops for coupons or deals.
Another important service that needs to be done before winter sets in is the brakes. Your ability to stop at any time is very important. Your ability to stop when driving conditions are icy and slick is imperative. Your brake pads should be checked, as well as the critical parts around the brake area. Check with your auto repair shop to see if your brake fluid needs to be changed. Over time the brake reservoir can accumulate small amounts of water. This is detrimental to the stopping power of the brakes.
The next important step for good winter driving is your battery. Batteries don’t last forever. You should have your auto repair shop test your battery’s cranking power. If you don’t have enough cranking amps, you could find yourself out in the cold, stuck out. A dead battery in the middle of the night, in a snow storm, is not fun.
Tires are another great asset in the winter. Not just plain ole tires, but studded snow tires. If you live in a really wintry area, you should consider these. They are very useful on icy roads. If you don’t get tons of snow in your location, you just need to make sure the regular tires you have, are in good shape. Slick tires don’t work well in normal conditions, much less, snow packed roads.
Regular oil changes and scheduled maintenance are probably the most important things you can do for your vehicle at this time of year. If you have realized how much longer your auto will last with the regular maintenance done, you are already planning for winter. If you have not been diligent about getting that all important “tune up” done as required, you are probably going to spend more money at the shop, trying to get caught up. Keeping the heart of your car in good working order determines how long that vehicle will last.
The windshield wipers are probably the top safety tip for winter. If you have not changed the windshield wiper blades in a while or ever, it is time. You can usually get those put on free at Advance Auto or other auto parts places when you purchase a set of blades. Ask the parts person about wiper blades that resist freezing up. Also raise the hood and see how much wiper fluid is in the reservoir. That too is a fluid that does not freeze up. It shouldn’t be more expensive, by much. Winter can bring many different situations and scenarios for driving. Keeping your auto in good working order is another source of safety for you and your valuable passengers. Pack an emergency kit for your car. Water, non-perishable snacks, flashlight, extra batteries, road flasher sign, and blanket/blankets and if you have a cell phone, take that every time you leave home. Never assume your short trip, during negative weather conditions is going to be problem free. Be prepared with an auto that runs great and the necessary emergency supplies packed in for the winter.