When the snow starts falling and the temperatures drop, the roads can become treacherous. Just as bad? Loading the whole family into the car for Grandma’s house, turning the key and hearing… nothing. Thankfully, you can avoid that nightmare with a little prep work. Follow these simple steps for a great winter driving season, and keep your investment in tip-top shape while you’re at it.
Upgrading the wiper blades & washer fluid
They’re easy to forget, but functioning and winter-specific wiper blades and washer fluid can be a lifesaver when you’re driving home mid-blizzard. Winter blades feature a protective rubber shell designed to repel ice and snow so you aren’t trying to clear your windshield with icicles. Cold-weather washer fluid contains anti-freeze – another good call.
Check out: TRICO Chill Teflon Edge Wipers are designed for the worst weather, and Super Tech Winter Formula Windshield Washer Fluid works down to -20 degrees F.
Inspecting the tires
Bald tires in the winter are a recipe for disaster. While it’s important to have a tread depth of at least 6/32-inch for proper traction – no matter the season – you’ll need even more for the winter. Tire treads compress and release snow as you drive – without enough depth, you’re far more likely to spin out. Head to the nearest tire store if you’re in doubt about the state of yours.
You’ll also want to check your tire pressure. When the temperatures drop significantly, the pressure in your tires drop as well. At the beginning of the season, double-check the pressure in all four tires so you aren’t starting off-balance.
Checking the coolant
This is absolutely necessary during the winter. Make sure you’re using the correct antifreeze to prevent fluid from freezing in the radiator. Check the owner’s manual to see what type of mixture your car needs and purchase a tester from an auto shop to make sure the antifreeze is filled to the maximum.
Getting your car waxed
While it might sound strange, a coat of wax before the snow starts falling can protect your car against damage from ice and road salt, which is extremely corrosive. Apply it to the lower parts of your car, including behind the tires and under the grille.
Check out: Turtle Wax – they recommend applying it to the lower parts of your car, including behind the tires and under the grille.
Adding tougher floor mats
Now that the exterior of your car is protected, what about the interior? Switch out your floor mats for something rubber that can withstand any debris that your shoes might carry in from outside.
Check out: WeatherTech creates custom fit and durable floor mats for any vehicle.
Stashing some gear in the trunk
In the event that you get stuck somewhere – and let’s hope you don’t – think like a boy scout. A shovel, a blanket, a flashlight, even hand warmers, gloves, a hat, water and a snack make up a pretty fine winter emergency survival kit.
Check out: This 66-piece (yes, really) road assistance kit for severe weather from AAA fits into a compact case and includes a folding shovel, three-piece fleece set, flashlight and more.
Enlist Car Technician for These:
Checking your battery
The colder the temperature, the more power your battery loses. If you don’t have a battery tester handy, head to a local car technician to find out if yours is winter-ready or in need of replacement.
Switching to a thinner oil
Engine oil thickens when it gets cold, which means your car battery has to work twice as hard to keep things running smoothly. Ask for a recommendation for a thinner oil at your next oil change, and spring for a fresh new filter too.