7 Basic Tips for Preparing Vehicles for Winter

Although winter hasn’t yet officially arrived, in some areas of the country, winter weather has already begun and will continue into spring. Of all the seasons, it’s winter that can cause the most damage for cars. That’s why it’s extremely crucial to get vehicles prepared in advance before the harshest winter weather hits. Here are seven basic tips for preparing vehicles for winter conditions.

Check Tires

Once a month, check your tire pressure. Remember that tire pressure should be between 30 and 35 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). The right tire pressure is particularly important in winter because tire pressure can quickly drop from exposure to colder air. Consider that for every 10-degree reduction in temperature, tires lose one PSI of air. When tires aren’t properly inflated, gas mileage can be affected as well as tire wear.

If you live in an area prone to extremely harsh weather, you’ll need a good set of snow tires that have more tread and can withstand extreme temperatures. Check tire tread by doing the “Lincoln test”. This is done by inserting a penny into the tread of a tire. Have the top of Lincoln’s head point upward toward the tire. If the entire head is visible, it’s time to replace the tire before harsh weather arrives.

Get Your Car's Battery Tested

One of the main preparations in getting a vehicle ready for winter is to have the battery tested because inclement weather can significantly decrease battery capacity. Furthermore, keeping your car parked in a garage, rather than in freezing weather, also helps in preserving the battery.

Be Sure Brake Lights and Headlights Are Working

Your brake lights and headlights should always be in good working order, but they must be functioning well when driving through heavy snow or dense winter fog. What’s more, you need to be sure other drivers on the road can see you.

Regularly Replace Worn Windshield Blades

If live in a harsh climate, you’ll need winter or rubber-clad blades to manage ice accumulation. You’ll all need plenty of windshield washer solvent for winter weather, in addition to an ice scraper.

Check Your Cooling System Regularly

Flush and refill your car’s cooling system, as recommended. Moreover, check the level as well as the concentration and condition of the coolant. The usual recommendation is a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze. Also, be sure the engine has been completely cooled before removing the radiator cap.

Add a Coat of Wax to Your Car

Before snow begins to fall, apply a fresh coat of wax to your vehicle as this helps protect it from damage caused by dirt and salt on roads. Although road salt is used for treating icy roads, it can do severe damage to cars because salt is corrosive.

Carry Glycerine for De-icing Frozen Door Locks

Sometimes freezing weather can cause door locks to freeze. Forcing a door lock to open by using a car key can result in breaking the key. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry glycerine, which is used for de-icing. You can usually find this product in auto parts stores, hardware stores, and even discount stores.

Other Considerations and Warnings

  • Always have jumper cables in your car just in case your vehicle breaks down.
  • Don’t use plastic headlight covers as they can reduce brightness.
  • Check your car’s heater system to ensure it’s working properly. Be sure the blower is functioning, the core isn’t leaking and the window defroster works.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car that includes items, such as boots, extra gloves, blankets, kitty litter, a shovel, batteries, snacks, an additional car charger, and other essentials.
  • Replace all dirty filters, including fuel, air, PCV, and others.
  • Make sure your wheels are correctly aligned. Realize that wheels that are poorly aligned can make an engine work harder, which results in using too much gasoline.
  • Maintain vehicle fluids.
  • The next time you have your oil changed, use winter-grade oil.

Because winter conditions create more driving challenges, drivers can be more at risk for getting traffic citations than at other times of the year. At Traffic School Online we offer an online traffic school and defensive driving courses for dismissing traffic citations and reducing insurance costs. Please contact us and learn more about how we can help you.