As winter quickly approaches, most are swapping out their bed linens for warmer sheets, bringing out winter clothes and finding ways to keep their homes warm. In all this preparation for the coldest season, many forget to winterize their cars. This can lead to a possible breakdown, stranding you in the extreme cold of winter far from home!
The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends that you take the following steps to prepare your car for the long cold winter ahead:
- Check the Battery – Extreme cold weather can zap car batteries of the power needed to start and run a car. Batteries older than 3 or 4 years are more susceptible to fail, especially if they are having trouble starting a car during warm weather. Have your battery checked by your local mechanic to make sure it is in good working order. Replace it if necessary. Also, don’t forget to carry jumper cables in your car in case your battery fails.
- Check the Tires – AAA says that the tires are the most neglected part of any car. Every fall, they should be checked to make sure that they are properly inflated and have enough tread to provide sufficient wet traction. If you live in a climate that gets snow or ice, tires should be rated for “all-season,” at a minimum. In very snowy areas, summer or all-season tires should be replaced with snow tires before the first snowfall. Some states won’t allow cars on the road when they are covered with snow unless snow tires and/or chains are installed on the vehicle. Check with your state’s highway department for further information.
- Check the Engine – The oil, antifreeze, air filter, belts and hoses should be checked at the beginning of the winter season. Oil should be changed regularly to keep an engine running at its maximum efficiency. Antifreeze should last between 2 to 5 years, depending on the type. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had it changed, take it to the mechanic to have it checked. At the same time, have your mechanic check hoses for leaks and belts for signs of stress.
- Check Wiper Blades and Washer Fluid – Wiper blades tend to only last one to two years, so if they haven’t been replaced recently, be sure to replace them. While you are at the auto store buying new wiper blades, pick up several gallons of washer fluid. You will likely go through most of it in one season clearing salt spray from the windshield.
- Assemble a cold-weather car kit – If you are likely to be driving on desolate, rural roads or areas prone to snow and ice, it is recommended that you carry a cold-weather car kit. In this kit, you should pack the following items:
- Coat (in case you have to walk), blanket, gloves and warm clothes
- Paper towels
- High-energy, non-perishable food and water, or sports drinks
- Flashlight, flares, and a first-aid kit
- Bag of abrasive material for traction, such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter
- Snow brush and scraper
- Snow shovel
- Working and fully-charged cell phone to call for help
Follow these tips and you and your car will be less likely to run into any problems this winter!
Stay Safe. Know Before™.
-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team