Fall is beginning to wind down, and the weather feels like winter more and more every day. Everyday life is challenged with the presence snow, sleet, and freezing rain including how your car operates.
There are numerous things that you can do ahead of time to make sure your car functions safely throughout the winter months. This will be important in maximizing your car’s ability to keep you and your family safe if a problem arises. Here are 5 key steps to follow:
1. Put a “winter supply” box in your car: This is certainly the most important thing that you can do for your car and personal safety. When something goes wrong while traveling on a cold winter day, having a box of supplies can make all the difference.
Here are some items you should have handy:
· Road flares
· First-aid kit
· A few blankets
· Change of warm clothes
· Extra pair of gloves
· A radio
· Charged cell phone for 911 calls
· A bag of sand (for traction)
· Extra ice scraper
· High-energy snacks (like nuts or jerky)
2. Check your engine coolant and antifreeze levels: You may be freezing in the winter, but thanks to Antifreeze, your car’s engine won't. Without it, your engine can freeze, leaving you in a not so ideal situation when your car breaks down.
A kit for checking your engine coolant levels at almost every auto supply store. This kit will be helpful in quickly figuring out if you have an appropriate coolant mix. Your car’s manual also has instructions on how to directly check your antifreeze levels.
3. Check tire pressure and tread depth: Having good tires on your car in a crucial part of staying safe and staying on the road when the weather gets bad and icy. You can make sure your tires are in good shape with just a few simple steps:
· Check your tire pressure. You can get a simple gauge to do so at any auto supply store. Follow your manual’s recommendations for pressure level, and if your tires need air, fill them up at the gas station. Most gas stations offer free tire air fill-ups.
· Make sure your tired have an appropriate amount of tread on them. This can be checked with the simple “Lincoln test”.
· If you live in a significant winter climate, it may be helpful to consider installing winter tires before the season begins. They will make all the difference when it comes to getting around.
4. Use winter windshield wiper fluid: The windshield wiper fluid that you use in the spring, summer, and fall won’t be able to put up a fight against the cold winter. It freezes quickly upon contact with your windshield making it worse than useless.
During the winter, switch your usual fluid out for “winter” fluid. Winter fluid is designed for the harsh winter weather and won’t freeze on your windshield. It actually helps loosen the ice and from your windshield, which makes it much easier to keep things clear.
5. Switch to a winter-grade oil at your next oil change: Overall, the colder the weather, the thinner you want your engine oil to be. The viscosity of your oil in colder weather is indicated by the first number in the oil specification, with a lower number indicating better viscosity in cold weather. For example, a 5W-30 oil is better in the winter than a 10W-30 oil.
You should begin to consider switching to an oil with a lower cold weather viscosity grade when the cold weather begins to set in. If you normally use a 10W-30 oil, switching to 5W-30 at your next oil change for the winter is a good move.
All of these tips are useful for safely operating your vehicle in the winter months. If nothing else, include an emergency box in your car. Doing so will be critical in keeping you and your family safe in the event of a winter car emergency.
Source: U.S. News Money