Robert Keith

5 Tips To Prepare Your Car For Winter

As the fall leaves begin to disappear and the temperatures begin to drop, many people start stressing about winter driving. From dead batteries to getting stuck in the snow, the list of problems that could affect your car in the winter is enough to give anyone anxiety. 

Unless you live in an area of the world where winters are relatively temperate, it’s crucial to get your car prepared for winter weather. Taking a few simple steps to prepare can maximize your car’s winter performance and keep you and your family safe in harsh conditions. While most modern vehicles are built to handle inclement weather, there are still some steps that you need to take to make sure your car is ready to handle whatever winter throws at it. 

When you start seeing frost on your windshield in the morning, that should be your signal to start thinking about winterizing your car. Below are five steps that you should take at the beginning of winter to prepare your car for colder days. 

Check your engine coolant/antifreeze levels 

Antifreeze is probably the most important fluid to think about in winter. As the name suggests, its purpose is to keep your engine from freezing when the temperatures drop too low. If the engine freezes, it can actually cause your car to overheat, which can leave you in a difficult and dangerous situation. 

Additionally, if the antifreeze in your car is low or old, it will generate weak electrical currents, which can ultimately cause the coolant system to fail. If this happens, you may find yourself stranded. 

For these reasons, it is imperative to have a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water added to your car as winter approaches. 

If you want to check your antifreeze levels on your own, most auto parts stores sell testers that you can use to make sure your levels are where they should be. Alternatively, you could take your car to a mechanic such as Brisbane Euro Specialists. Mechanics can also flush the coolant system and check it for leaks. Both of these steps are added insurance against winter weather. 

Check your tires 

Having good tires is key for winter driving. If they are under-inflated or too worn, driving on cold or icy roads can be extremely dangerous. Proper tread and inflation allow your car to grip the road, which allows you to maneuver safely. 

The first step you should take is checking the tire pressure. You can check the inside of your car doors or your owner’s manual to find out what the tire pressure should be. Most gas stations have air pumps to check and add air. 

You should also check to make sure that you tires have enough tread. One way to do this is with the “coin test.” Take a 20c coin and put it head down inside the tread. If you can see the whole head, your tires are too worn and need to be replaced. 

It also doesn’t hurt to have your tires inspected and rotated by a professional. You might also consider buying winter tires if you’re in a particularly rough climate. 

Have your battery tested 

The capacity of your car’s battery decreases in the cold weather so it’s important to make sure that it’s functioning as well as possible before the winter hits. If it isn’t, you could find yourself stranded with a dead battery. 

You should check the battery itself, fluid, cables, and terminals. You can do this yourself, or consult a mechanic. You should also check the charge level. Some batteries have a built-in hydrometer for this purpose. 

One step that you can certainly take yourself is checking the battery’s manufacture date. If the battery is older, it’s more likely to have problems. 

If all else fails, it doesn’t hurt to have a set of jumper cables in your car for emergencies. 

Inspect your windshield wipers and use winter washer fluid 

Something that is often overlooked in winter car preparation is the windshield wipers. As anyone who’s driven in winter will tell you, your windshield is constantly getting covered with water, snow, and mud. Maintaining visibility is crucial for safe winter driving. 

The first thing you should do is check the wiper blades themselves. You want to make sure they aren’t too worn or damaged. If they are, they won’t be effective for clearing off the windshield. You can buy replacement blades at an auto parts store and replace them yourself. 

You should also think about your washer fluid. There are certain types of fluid that are made especially for winter to keep the fluid from freezing on the windshield. You should make sure your car is filled with this type of fluid. 

Pack an emergency kit 

As well as you prepare, there may be times when emergencies happen. The best thing you can do is have supplies ready in your car to make the best of these situations. Even if you don’t use them yourself, you may be able to help another stranded motorist. 

You should include items that could help you get out of the snow, fix issues with your car, and allow you to be safe if you're stranded for a while. 

Here are some ideas of what to include in your emergency kit: 

  • flashlight
  • road flares
  • sand or kitty litter (for traction)
  • blanket
  • first-aid kit
  • knife
  • nonperishable food
  • shovel
  • ice scraper
  • extra fluids for your car
  • rope (for towing your car out of the snow)
  • jumper cables

Winter can be a difficult time, especially when winter storms make driving dangerous. However, if you follow these five steps, your winter commute will be much less of a headache and you and your family will make it to spring in one piece!

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