Winter can often be the worst time of year, as far as your car is concerned. Cold weather creates a lot of challenges for cars and trucks, on top of the difficulty that comes with driving on snow or ice. It’s a very good idea to do some maintenance and check-ups before things get too frosty, to ensure you’ll have a safe and enjoyable ride throughout the winter.
From 10-point tire inspections to topping off your fluids, here are some very basic maintenance tips that will make winter driving much safer.
Five Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle for Cold Weather
1. Top off your oil – or have it replaced
Cold weather tends to make oil run a bit thicker, which isn’t normally a problem – but it can be if your vehicle already has old, sludgy oil in it. Don’t just check your oil. This is a good time to do a full oil change to make sure the oil is as fresh as possible before the cold weather hits.
At the same time, be sure to check your antifreeze, coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. You need them all in good condition for the winter.
2. Verify your lights
When is the last time you checked to ensure that all your car’s lights are functioning properly? Besides being a legal requirement, they can be true lifesavers in bad visibility, such as a snowstorm. This can be done in five minutes; you just need someone to help out by watching the lights from outside as you trigger them from inside the vehicle.
3. Check on your spare tire
Most people have a spare tire in their trunk but tend to forget about it. You don’t want to have a blowout on a cold night, with no way of getting back on the road. So, this is the perfect time to pull out your spare, make sure it’s inflated, and check for any damage which could cause a problem.
4. Get a 10-point tire inspection
Good tires can save your life! Winter driving demands the best possible traction and control, so you need to know your tires are up to the task. Full 10-point tire inspections cover every aspect of the tire, from tread depth to its overall physical condition, so that you know if your tires are up for the difficult driving ahead.
And while you’re at it:
5. Have your wheels aligned
Wheel alignment ensures that your wheels are perfectly parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the road. Even tiny differences in how your wheels are aimed can substantially impact your handling and control – which can be dangerous in slick driving conditions during the winter.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter!
While the aforementioned tips can help your car get prepared for winter driving, visiting a tire center or shop for comprehensive wheel maintenance and other services is always recommended, especially when heading into the fall and winter months.