How To Prepare Your Car For Winter

Winter conditions are tough for vehicles and drivers alike. The unpredictable weather, chilling temperatures, fog, snow, icy road conditions and low visibility are bad enough. You don’t want to make matters worse with safety issues or an unreliable car. Getting stuck on a cold snowy day is a bad experience, but you can reduce the risk with a little care. Here are some tips for safe and comfortable winter driving.
Check Your Battery

The last thing you want on a cold winter day is a car that refuses to start. Batteries don’t like cold or hot temperatures. Extreme temperatures reduce their efficiency. If you are having a troublesome battery, get it checked and replaced if needed.

A struggling battery is likely to die in low temperatures. If your location experiences severe winter, it’s better to replace batteries older than three years. An old battery can fail without any advance warning and at the worst possible moment. Even if your battery is working well, get the voltages and electrolyte levels checked to ascertain that it is in good condition.

Check The Coolant

You must check coolant level and condition before every winter. It is a 1:1 mixture of water and antifreeze. The antifreeze prevents the coolant from freezing. In areas where temperatures dip below freezing point, it is better to change the coolant every two years.

Check Tyres And Brakes

Tyre treads should be checked before winter to ensure they have enough depth to grip the road well. If your area gets snow in the winter or the temperature goes below 7°C, it is better to use special winter tyres. Winter tyres stay more flexible at lower temperatures and give better grip in icy conditions.

Tyres lose pressure as temperatures go down. Check the tyre pressures at least once a week. Always check before long trips and don’t ignore the spare tyre. Low tyre pressures will result in reduced control, increased fuel consumption and faster tyre wear.

The importance of good brakes on slippery roads cannot be overstated. Even a slight performance problem can cause accidents on slippery roads. If you have any doubts about your brakes, you should get it checked at a good garage.

Check Engine Oil

Check engine oil levels before winter starts. Low-viscosity engine oils make starting easier in freezing temperatures. But, check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations before you consider getting the oil replaced. Check Wipers And Lights Top up the windscreen washer fluid because you will use the wipers more often in winter. Test the wipers and if they are not clearing the windscreen, check and replace the blades if needed.

Check and confirm that all lights and indicators are working well. If your headlights have become yellowish and hazy, clean them before winter starts.

Check The Climate Control System And Window Defrosters

You need the climate control system in winter to keep warm and prevent your windows from fogging. Window defrosters prevent ice from building on the windows. Ensure that both these systems are working well.

Fill Up The Fuel Tank

Don’t allow the fuel level to go below the halfway mark in winter. If you have more fuel, you can keep the car running and heater working longer if you get stuck in a remote area. You will also be able to charge your cell phone. Getting low on fuel increases the chance of water freezing inside your fuel pump or fuel lines.

Keep An Emergency Kit In Your Car

Having an emergency kit in the car is essential, especially if you plan to drive through remote areas or live in a place where it snows heavily. It’s easy to put one together. Here are the things you should have in an emergency kit.

  1. Blankets and some warm clothes.
  2. Flashlight and a spare set of batteries.
  3. Bottled water.
  4. Non-perishable eatables.
  5. A knife.
  6. First aid kit. If you already have one, check for and replace any items that are beyond the expiry date.
  7. A stock of regular medications.
  8. A fully charged power bank and a car charger to keep your cell phone alive longer. A solar cell phone charger is also a good idea.
  9. Jumper cables.
  10. Tools for dealing with snow and ice: a small shovel, snow brush, ice scraper and a can of de-icer spray.

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