As the season turns and autumnal colors transform to frosty whites and glistening ice, we turn to Game of Thrones’ House Stark for a most-fitting motto: “Winter is coming!” While American drivers won’t have to worry about the Army of the Dead, they will have to fight cold conditions, and prepare their vehicles properly.
No matter where you live in the United States, any decrease in temperature can take a toll on your vehicle. For those who reside in Northern states and high altitudes, the effects of dropping temperatures are amplified as winter nears.
Not everyone can be a mechanic or motor vehicle expert; however, with proper preparation, you can take steps to ensure your car is ready to drive safely this winter season.
Check All Fluids
Once winter really sets in, everything starts freezing over—including the fluids inside your vehicle.
Consult your car’s manual when checking fluids like engine coolant (anti-freeze), windshield washer fluid, and engine oil. Make sure all fluids have been mixed properly and filled to their required levels. If your vehicle’s anti-freeze or windshield fluid is low and/or mixed with too much water, it can freeze as temperatures drop.
Test Your Car Battery
Car batteries get old and can quit working at any time during the year. However, there’s no question that winter is the worst time for a dead car battery.
If you have a multimeter, it’s fairly easy to check your battery’s charge. A fully charged automotive battery should measure at 12.4 volts or above (consult your vehicle’s manual for the exact measurement).
If you don’t have a multimeter, checking the brightness of your vehicle’s headlights can give you a general sense of battery power. For a more accurate read, you can take your car to a dealership or auto repair shop to have the battery checked.
Winter Car Accessories
If you live in an area that receives winter’s full attention, you might consider purchasing some of these car accessories.
New windshield wiper blades are a crucial purchase when winter rolls around. Usually windshield wipers last 6 to 12 months, depending on the type you buy and the climate you live in.
Additionally, tire chains, snow tires, and engine heaters can all relieve stress during the winter. However, individual research must be done to figure out if these accessories are worth buying.
Keep It Flexible
Door and window seals, as well as locks for handles, trunks, and truck beds can all freeze up after a couple hours in frigid environments.
Auto stores often sell lubricant spray for window and door seals, which you may consider purchasing if you’ll be in colder climates. To prevent your locks from freezing, apply a bit of WD-40 to them. If you’ve forgotten preventative maintenance, some warm water or glycerin applied to a frozen lock should defrost it.
Winter can also impact parts of your vehicle you’ve never seen before. Salt and sand that plow trucks toss along roads and highways have detrimental effects on your car’s undercarriage. To remedy this corrosive issue, ask your local body shop or dealership if they offer any oil solution treatments before snow starts falling.
In Case of Emergency
It is always nice to have a box of emergency items in case you do suffer from a winter breakdown. Consider packing the following into a duffel bag you can easily store in the trunk of your car:
- Ice scraper.
- Car jack.
- Hat and gloves.
Remember to get your car serviced before winter begins! Even if you know your vehicle inside and out, a fresh set of eyes can sometimes catch issues that you may have overlooked.
Stay warm, and drive safe this winter.