With winter approaching, northerners and other folks used to snow are usually preparing their homes for the cold — the question that often catches people off-guard, however, is whether or not their car is ready, too. There are many things that a precautious driver should do before the onset of winter, and with the right preparation you can save yourself a ton of headaches and potential repair bills.
Not the Good Old Days
…But let’s keep things in perspective here. Old-timer mechanic types will be sure to tell you all kinds of doomsaying tales of drivers who didn’t change their oil, or didn’t get a full tune up. The fact is that modern cars and engine oil are better equipped to handle winter, but a mechanical problem is always made worse by freezing cold, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not going to be stuck on the side of the road.
Winter tires. The most important decision you need to make prepping your car for winter is to decide whether or not you want to change up for winter tires. Winter tires typically have a deeper tread that makes it easy for you to maintain control on icy roads, but because they can be a bit of an investment, you have to determine whether or not you need them.
Tire Pressure. It’s simple physics: as it gets colder, you’re going to lose pressure in your tires. Even if you don’t use winter tires, or you already have all-season tires, you won’t be able to go anywhere if they’re flat. Be sure to stop at your local service station and put air in those tires!
Check the Essentials. If you haven’t had a tune-up in a while, it’s a good idea to have a professional give your car a quick once-over; the prospect of waiting for a tow-truck in sleet is usually enough to encourage drivers to take their car in. Making sure the essentials like engine belts, batteries, and radiator are in order is just good sense.
Put Together Your Emergency Kit. While you should have one in your car already anyway, with winter coming it’s a good time to put together an emergency kit. With below freezing temperatures on the way, it’s possible that having the right kit can be the difference between life or death if your vehicle breaks down. Make sure you car has blankets, a shovel, jumper cables, rope, nonperishable foods (granola bars are good), water, and a cell phone charger, and for the winter, a container of sand or salt isn’t a bad idea either.
November 15, 2012 by Jamie Rettig