Winter is coming. In many places, it’s already here. While cold temperatures, ice, snow and slush often come along with this chilly season, it doesn’t have to mean your car is put in the deep freeze until the spring thaw. Consider these five tips to help you prepare your vehicle for the cold and handle the inclement weather once it hits.
Extreme temperatures can affect your vehicle’s battery and it can be a good idea to be sure yours is in good shape before extreme cold weather hits. I recommend having your battery load tested to determine it’s condition. It should have more than 9.6 volts under load if it’s a good battery, according to Popular Mechanics. Also, make sure the cable connections are clean, secure and free of
corrosion. This will help ensure your battery can do it’s job when the frigid temperatures sets in.
Change your vehicle’s oil before the cold weather hits, especially if you do your own oil changes. This way, you can get this chore out of the way before you’re laying on cold concrete.
In addition to keeping up on this regular maintenance task, it’s nice to have fresh oil, of the correct viscosity, in your engine when things get cold. As temperatures drop, it typically takes longer for oil to flow and lubricate critical parts of your engine. This is why I recommend an oil change with the correct viscosity before the weather gets cold. That way, you can help ensure your engine is properly lubricated during cold winter startups.
In fact, if your vehicle is due for a service, you may want to ahead and have all your fluids changed or topped off so that they’re fresh and ready for winter.
If you have all-season or all-weather tires, make sure they have plenty of tread depth and good traction on wet roads. Winter driving can be treacherous. A good set of tires is your best defense against this.
In my opinion, it’s ideal to have a set of winter tires for driving in snow and ice. Winter tires are specifically designed to work in cold weather and help give you maximum traction on snow and ice, says Edmunds.
While it’s obviously important to have tires with reliable traction in the winter, it’s also important to have good visibility. I suggest that drivers buy and install new windshield wiper blades before the winter weather hits. You might also consider replacing your usual wiper fluid with deicing windshield washer fluid, available at most auto parts stores. It’s OK to mix the deicing fluid with regular wiper fluid, and I would suggest drivers add deicing fluid in the fall so that when winter rolls around, it’s mostly deicing fluid that’s in the reservoir.
Ever have a door that’s frozen shut? Here’s a tip to help prevent that: spraying silicone or nonstick cooking spray (commonly found at your local grocery store) on your door seals may help your vehicle’s doors from freezing shut.
Once you open your door, you’ll see a rubber seal that goes around the circumference of the door, or the door’s opening. Spray the cooking spray on these seals and wipe it down with a rag or paper towel. You’ll likely have to reapply the spray as needed, or just prior to a frigid, icy storm.
There are times when you can get caught in a storm and even trapped in your vehicle. If this happens, you’ll want to be prepared. I recommend a blanket, hand warmers, an extra pair of gloves and meals ready to eat (MREs). You can often get these from a military surplus store.
I would say water, but that will often freeze and perhaps compromise the container it’s in. You might also consider a first aid kit. I’d also suggest a shovel and some kitty litter to help free your vehicle if it gets stuck. The kitty litter can be spread underneath and in front of tires to help increase tire traction.
These recommendations only scratch the surface, but you can create your own customized emergency kit by using a more comprehensive list as starting point. The point is to think about the conditions in your area and prepare accordingly.
Some simple preparation and preventative maintenance can help your car handle the winter months.