While it isn’t officially winter just yet, you certainly wouldn’t know by the temperatures we have had as late (or the snowfall from a few weeks ago). In any case, winter is right around the corner; December 21st is the official start of winter. With cold weather comes a few ‘must do’ items to prepare your car for optimal performance and holiday travels. We’ve also included some things you should do in the winter to prepare yourself for the ‘unexpected’.
Check your engine coolant/anti-freeze levels:
Antifreeze (A.K.A. coolant) keeps your engine from freezing during cold weather. Without it, your engine might freeze, leaving you stranded. You can easily do-it-yourself by following the directions in your vehicle manual. Adding more coolant is very simple if you need to do so. Anti-freeze is inexpensive and can be picked up at any auto supply store (such as O’Reilly’s), many grocery stores, and places such as Target or that other big-name store that starts with a W. If you would rather take it to a professional, most mechanical places will do this for a minimal fee. We recommend using Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram, Landers Chevrolet, or Andy’s Automotive Repair (a mobile auto repairer that comes to your home or business).
Replace worn windshield Wipers & replace wiper fluid:
This is also a good time to check and see if you may need some new wiper blades. Blades that are worn can hinder driving visibility when it’s snowing, sleeting, or raining outside. Additionally, you will want to change out your windshield wiper fluid to a winter mix so that it doesn’t freeze up in your wiper fluid reservoir or on your windshield. Winter fluid can help loosen ice and snow from your windshield, making it much easier to keep things clear.
Change to a winter grade oil on your next oil change:
In colder weather it is better to have a thinner oil in your engine. The viscosity of your oil indicated by the first number in the oil specification, a lower number indicates better viscosity for cold weather. For example, a 5W-30 oil is better in the winter than a 10W-30 oil. You should consider switching to an oil with a lower viscosity grade at your next oil change.
Check your tire pressure and tread depth:
While you cannot control the weather to prevent ice or snowfall, you can do your part to ensure safer driving conditions for you and others on the road around you by ensuring your tires are in good condition. This can be key to keeping your vehicle safely on the road. To check your tires all you need is a tire gauge. Check your owner’s manual to find the recommended pressure level. If you find you need air, most gas stations offer free air for tire fill-ups. In order to check your tread depth, the only tool you need is a penny (for real, a one cent coin is the only tool you need). Insert the penny into your tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head pointing inward towards the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need to replace your tire as your thread it too worn.
Clear off your car:
While you may be tempted to take off down the road for a quick trip to the store without fully clearing off your vehicle off ice and snow, it is important to fully clear off your car. Visibility is more limited when you don’t scrap the ice fully off the mirrors and all your glass surfaces on the vehicle. Additionally, you will want to clear the snow off the hood, trunk lid, and roof of your vehicle because as your drive it will melt down into your view or blow off onto the vehicle behind you, again creating a visibility hazard.
Keep your car’s gas talk half-full:
While you may be more tempted in the winter to run your car talk closer to empty before stopping for gas (who wants to get out in the cold to pump gas), it is a good idea to ensure that your vehicle’s gas tank does not go below half-full. There are two reasons for this. One reason is that it reduces the change for condensation in your fuel tank. Condensation in your fuel tank can make your car harder to start on cold winter mornings. Another reason to keep more gas in the car is for safety purposes – you could get stuck in snow and ice or traffic and need more gas to keep your car idling and the heat on.
Charge your cell phone before heading out:
Nothing is worse than breaking down and not being able to contact someone for help. To that end, it’s always a good idea to have a charger in your vehicle as well.
Put an emergency kit in your trunk or backseat:
With the unpredictability of winter travel, its always best to be prepared. It is for this reason it is good to go ahead and put together an emergency kit to put in your vehicle. Here are some items we would suggest that you include in that kit:
- Ice scraper
- Small shovel (they make small portable ones that fold up for easy storage)
- First aid kit
- Fresh batteries
- Extra clothes
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable snacks (peanuts, protein bars, granola bars, crackers)
- Bag of sand (you might want to put a few bags of sand in your trunk if your vehicle is rear-wheel drive to help with better traction)
We hope that these tips and suggestions help you and your family to have safe travels this holiday season and through out the winter months. The goal is to always arrive safely to your destination; however, accidents do happen from time to time, but when snow or ice are present on the road. If you find yourself in accident, know that Landers Collision is here to help you as we are just a phone call away (405) 579-3070.