Before cold and snow hits your area, you should prepare your car to handle it. Preparing for winter early saves you from going out in harsh weather conditions to try to fix problems that could have been solved earlier in the year during warmer temperatures. Performing a regular winter maintenance routine for your car may help save you from breaking down or not being able to start your car on a cold winter morning.
Right before winter is a great time to have a complete tune up performed on your car. This process should include an oil change and the installation of a new oil filter. Your antifreeze and brake, power steering and transmission fluids should all be topped off as well. A well-maintained automobile should not lose fluids often, but ensuring that they are always at proper levels can help prevent future problems with your engine – especially during cold weather.
The coolant system in your car helps keep your vehicle from overheating, which may not seem important for cold weather. However, it also assists in making sure you have heat in your car, so having it flushed and refilled before winter is wise. At the same time, the hoses should be checked for any leaks, cracks or bulges and replaced if necessary. If you drive a high mileage car, you may also need to replace your water pump and thermostat while you are having your radiator inspected.
Bald or dry-rotted tires slide on ice and snow during the winter. Therefore, any tires that have a remaining tread of less than 1/8 of an inch should be replaced. If you live in an area that tends to see a large amount of snow or ice, you will need special snow tires for your vehicle. Snow tires are made with a stronger rubber that is resilient to low temperatures and with much deeper treads than normal tires so they slide less on the snow. Once you are sure you have good tires on your vehicle, and an inflated spare in your car, check the pressure on all your tires. The right tire pressure helps your car drive smoother and stop faster.
A job many people forget until it is too late is replacing their wiper blades. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months, or sooner if they start to fray or wear out. You need good wiper blades to clear snow, ice and mud off your windshield during the winter. Once you replace your wiper blades, make sure your windshield washer fluid is topped off since you will use it often when driving on slushy, wet roads.
A few other steps will complete your winter preparations. A quick battery inspection can help guarantee that your car will start whenever you need to drive it. This inspection consists of cleaning off your battery posts and making sure that no cables are worn or fraying. Finally, just in case, do not forget to pack an emergency winter kit to keep in your car that contains a blanket, water, snacks, flares and jumper cables.
Guest post contributed by Stacy Pulliam on behalf of Silver Star Mercedes-Benz. Stacy is an automotive freelance writer. She has been involved in car testing and design and writes for various online automotive blogs.