Severe winter weather, extreme cold, ice and salt can have damaging effects on your car. Preparing your car for the winter ahead will not only save you money, but it will also greatly reduce the chances of being stranded on a cold and lonely winter night. The best time of the year to get your car ready for the approaching winter season is in the Fall.
Below is a list of services and things to consider to properly prepare your car for the winter and stay safe on the road.
- Battery: Car batteries usually last 4 to 6 years and can fail without any warning. If your car battery is at 4 years or older, have it tested. Along with the battery test, ask your auto repair shop to test the alternator and starter
- Wiper Blades: Inspect your wiper blades for cracks, tears and loose components. If your wiper blades don’t clear the windshield cleanly and completely, purchase a new set. If you plan on driving your car in all types of winter weather conditions, consider a set of winter wiper blades. For owners of SUV vehicles, don’t forget to check the rear wiper blade too.
- Antifreeze/Coolant: Antifreeze/coolant is a liquid that flows through your engine, radiator, and heater system. In the summer months it keeps your engine from overheating. This same fluid is designed to keep your engine from freezing when the temperatures dip down and also keeps you warm inside. Antifreeze/coolant usually lasts about 50,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the vehicle, make and model. However, if you have more than five years on your car, have the antifreeze/coolant tested by a professional, no matter how many miles you have on your car.
- Tires: Tires are perhaps the single most important item on your car, especially during the winter season. Please have a professional inspect your tires before the winter. Don’t skimp on tires and listen to the advice from a pro. If you need to drive in all types of winter weather, consider a set of winter/snow tires. With today’s steering design, consider four winter tires and not two. If you drive an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle, I strongly suggest purchasing a set of four winter tires. Don’t forget to check the spare tire.
- Preventive Factory Maintenance: Performing the scheduled factory maintenance is essential to ensure that all vehicle components and systems are maintained according to manufacturer’s guidelines. During the scheduled service, your vehicle is also inspected from bumper to bumper to identify any problem areas. Review your owner’s manual and also consult your automotive professional.
- Radiator Hoses and Belts: Hoses and belts can last up to 100,00 miles and longer. However, a hose or belt can fail without any warning. If your car has 100,000 miles or is older than six years, have them inspected today and replace if needed.
- Engine Air and Cabin Filters: Your engine air filter cleans incoming air by trapping debris from entering the engine. When the air filter becomes clogged, it can affect engine performance and fuel economy. The cabin filter cleans the air that you breathe inside the car. This is critical since you will have the windows shut and the heater on during the winter months. These filters can last up to two years but should be inspected at every oil change service or once a year.
- The Oil Change Service: Notice it says “Service?” Changing the oil and oil filter is more than draining and refilling the oil, and installing a new filter. It’s a chance for a trained auto technician to look over the entire car. These technicians are trained to spot any issues, which will save you money and inconvenience down the road. PLEASE, do not extend the oil change interval. Listen to the advice from your automotive service professional.
- Engine and fuel additives: Personally, I like to add an engine and fuel system conditioner at every oil change service. At the very least, add these additives before the winter. It will give your car an added level of protection and extend the life of your engine and fuel system.
- Be Prepared for the Unexpected. A winter storm can creep up on you without much warning, so be prepared. Always carry your cell phone, phone charger, a list of emergency contacts, a blanket, bottled water, snacks, gloves, hat, and a flashlight. Keep you fuel tank topped off at all times during the winter months and always let friends and family know the route you take each day.
Preparing your car for winter is about your safety and the safety of others on the road. As you can see, a little preventive maintenance this Fall will give you peace of mind, save you money and lower the odds of a mechanical breakdown.
Stay safe on the road!