Winter Survival: Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter
Are you ready for winter? Ready or not, here it comes. One thing you must prepare for the winter months is your vehicle. Many people think this simply means adding antifreeze to the radiator, but there is so much more you must do to ensure your car, truck, SUV, van or even your motorcycle will be ready for the harsh winter ahead.
Here is a breakdown of the things you need to do and check before the cold weather settles in:
- Get an oil change. You want to start the winter with fresh oil and a fresh oil filter. A new air filter is also a good idea. If possible, get a full tune up.
- Have the radiator drained. Refill it with the appropriate liquids, such as antifreeze, in the amounts recommended by your automaker. Check the windshield washer fluid levels. Also check the fluid levels of the brake and transmission fluids.
- If you live in an area where you need snow tires, make sure you have those put on, and that they are in excellent condition. The lives of you and the people you love ride on those tires. Replace any tires that show signs of wear or damage. Store your other tires appropriately to ensure they do not dry rot during the winter.
- Remember that air pressure needs to be different in the winter than it is in the summer. This is due to how air pressure reacts to temperature. Refer to the recommendations of your tire manufacturer and either increase or decrease the air pressure as necessary. You should also keep a couple of cans of a tire inflation product in your car for emergencies, and make sure you have a good spare tire, and a working jack.
- Ensure all the lights on your vehicle are in good working order, including fog lights. Purchase extra bulbs and fuses, and store them in your vehicle.
- Purchase and install new windshield wipers. This is a good time to buy a new ice scraper with a brush as well. Inspect your windshield for nicks and cracks and get needed repairs. If you have a tiny crack in your windshield when the warm air from the heater hits the cold windshield, that tiny crack can spread all the way across the glass. This will, of course, result in needing a new windshield, which is a far more costly repair. Also inspect the seals around the side windows to ensure there are no leaks.
- Check your heater and defroster. If the unit is not operating correctly, now is the time to get the repairs instead of waiting until it is freezing outdoors.
- Finally, make sure you have items in your vehicle for emergencies. Make sure you replace the items as they are used. These items include:
- A warm blanket.
- A case of bottled water.
- Protein bars.
- Extra winter clothing (socks, hats, scarves, sweaters, winter boots, and gloves).
- Emergency flares and reflective triangles. If possible, put a reflective vest in your vehicle as well.
- A road map. Keep a map in the car even if you have GPS.
- Cellphone chargers.
- Jumper cables.
- A toolbox with basic tools.
- A basic first aid kit.
Failing to prepare your vehicle for winter will take years off the life of your vehicle. More importantly, failure to prepare your vehicle for safe wintertime operation puts the lives of you, your loved ones, and even complete strangers at risk.
Accidents are more common during winter, and many of those accidents we call "weather related" actually relate to how well the car was or was not prepared for the winter weather conditions. Winter weather can leave you stranded on the side of the road for hours. Prepare now to ensure your safety and relative comfort regardless of what the weather may throw at you on the roadways this winter.