Winter driving can be demanding on your car. Ensuring proper car maintenance before winter is important for many reasons. Not only could it save you time and money for car repairs, but it also reduces the likelihood of accidents. Given that we’ve already had our first snowfall this year, it’s important to do the following well before winter.
1. Check Tire Tread
Tire treads are one of the most important things to to check. If possible, consider getting dedicated winter tires. Having dedicated tires gives you the best traction in the snow and ice. The next best option is all-season tires. Additionally, check the amount of tread remaining. You can use a neat trick with a penny. Hold the penny with Lincoln’s head facing you. Place Lincoln’s head upside down into the lowest point of the tread. Look at it from the side. If you can clearly see all of Lincoln’s head, then you need to replace your tires. If some of Lincoln’s head is covered, then you have sufficient tread. Good tread enables your tires to grip the road.
2. Confirm Tire Pressure
Check that your tire pressure conforms with manufacturer’s recommendations. Over-inflated tires will be too stiff to grip the snow properly. Under-inflated tired run the risk of getting a flat. Temperature changes can impact tire pressure, so checking tire pressure regularly is important for safe driving and preserving the condition of your tires.
3. Fill Oil and Fluids
Fluids are essentially to the operation of your vehicle. Check your oil quality and level. If you have an older car, there is typically a dip stick on top of the engine. If the level is low, add oil. If the oil is dark and thick, it’s time for an oil change. For newer cars, you should be alerted if the level is low or if it’s time for a change. Before winter, it’s also a good idea to top off your anti-freeze and windshield washer fluid. Be sure to use washer fluid that has a de-icing additive.
4. Preserve Battery
Cold weather will reduce the performance of car batteries. For older batteries, you can get it tested to confirm it can hold sufficient charge. For all batteries, be extra careful not to drain it while parked. It’s no fun getting stuck with a dead car during cold winter months. The most common mistakes are leaving an interior dome light on electronics plugged in and charging while the car is parked.
5. Replace Wiper Blades
A very important tip for car maintenance before winter, and one that is commonly overlooked, is to check your windshield wipers. The rubber on wiper blades wear down over time. This makes them less effective in clearing your windshield. Make sure you have new wiper blades for the winter season. Getting that snow and ice off your windshield so you can clearly see the road is critical for safe driving. Don’t wait for the first winter storm to realize that you can’t see well through your windshield!
Summary of Car Maintenance Before Winter
Performing car maintenance before winter will help keep your car operational and safe for driving. While all of the above tips are helpful, the most import tip is to practice safe driving. Take your time while driving in inclement weather. Allow added distance between you and the next car. Avoid distractions that may increase your reaction time to hazards. By being more careful, you improve your chances of avoiding accidents and increase your chances of making it home safely.