Much of the world is already feeling the warm, summer air take a blustery turn. You may have already traded your flip flops for Uggs and dug your scarf out from the back of the closet.
Winter is coming.
But if you’re a car owner, you have a few more steps than changing out your wardrobe. You must ensure your car is ready for the winter air and driving conditions.
Here are a few steps to help prepare and take care of your car in the winter. These are tips you can take to prepare all types of vehicles, from compact cars to full-size SUVs.
1. Swap out your tires
If you live in an area that gets snow and ice, make sure to use tires that are made for these road conditions. You may think of it as overkill, but you will benefit from using snow tires in any area that regularly gets below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months. Snow tires have more traction, so they will give you extra stability in freezing conditions. You’re less likely to skid on snow or ice with the right tires.
Also, if your tires are losing their tread, get new ones. Even if you have snow tires from previous years, you’ll want to evaluate them to see if the tread is still good. If you don’t have enough tread left, you won’t get good traction. Your local auto or tire shop should be able to help you determine whether it’s time for new snow tires.
2. Check tire pressure often
Weather changes can impact your tire pressure. In fact, your tires lose one pound of pressure with every 10-degree temperature drop.
This is why important to check tire pressure often. If you live in an area where temperatures fluctuate often, then you should check your tire pressure weekly. At the very least, check it after any major temperature dip.
When tire pressure gets low, your tires can wear down prematurely, and you can easily lose traction on icy roads.
3. Use polymer wax
If you want to keep your car looking its best for years, you should apply a coat of polymer wax to protect it from the elements. Things like rock salt, snow, grime, and sleet can take a toll on your car’s paint job. After the season is over, consider getting a high-pressure car wash to rinse away buildup in the car’s wheel wells and underbody.
4. Stay fueled up
Keep your fuel tank filled at least halfway to avoid having it freeze over. It’s also good practice to keep your gas tank full in case of emergency. It’s never fun to run out of gas, but it’s especially difficult in the brisk days of winter. Imagine getting stuck in the snow and having to wait for help. You’ll want to keep that car running for the heat, and you’ll need gas to make that possible.
5. Protect your wipers
Have you ever gone to put on your wipers in the dead of winter and they don’t move? It doesn’t have to snow for this to happen. Even if it’s warm enough to rain at night, all that water will eventually freeze and your wipers will get stuck.
They will eventually get unstuck, but this can damage your wiper blades. And it’s a terrible inconvenience, to say the least.
If you know it’s going to rain or snow in the winter, pull your wiper blades away from the car. Also, avoid using your wipers to remove ice or snow from your windshield. Not only can you damage the blades, but you can also damage the motor, which is a more expensive repair.
6. Check your fluids
It’s especially important to check your vehicle’s fluids before subzero temperatures emerge. Antifreeze is the most important for the chill of winter, but you should check all fluids. This includes coolant, windshield wiper fluid and oil.
You may not be ready for the winter, but make sure your car is. As much as many of us don’t appreciate frigid temps, they’re even worse when you’re stuck on the side of the road.