Prepare Your Car for a Safe, Trouble-Free Winter
As the days shorten and the memories of sunny driving fade, it’s time to get your car ready for the tests and trials of winter. Here’s what to do to ensure your vehicle stays safe and trouble-free in the cold months to come.
1) Wiper Blades
In a heavy winter, your windshield wiper blades will come in for a lot of punishment. Make sure they’re not worn down and haven’t gotten split by the harsh heat of a dry summer. Test them by pouring water onto your windshield and then turning the wipers on. If they leave streaks behind, you need to replace them before the bad weather arrives.
Unless your car’s battery is new, you should have it tested and replaced if necessary. In freezing temperatures, it takes much more energy to start a car. Also, the constant use of lights and heating fans can wear a battery down quickly, especially in slow traffic in adverse conditions. You can’t afford for your battery to give out under strain, possibly leaving you stranded.
3) Heating System
In the summer months, you’ve probably been relying on your air conditioning, but now’s the time to make sure the heating system still works correctly. You don’t want to find there’s a problem only when the first cold weather unexpectedly hits.
4) Defrosting System
Likewise, check that your rear windshield defroster is in working order and heats up when you turn it on. Do the same for any other defrosters, such as your side mirrors or passenger windows.
If you have winter tires, switching over is the ideal time to check for wear and tear on both winter and summer sets. If the tread depth is less than 1/16 inch, or if some spots are worse than others, then you need new tires. Poor tread is dangerous at any time, but particularly in challenging, icy driving conditions.
Also, check your tires’ pressure, which will drop with the temperature, which reduces handling even further. Keep checking throughout the winter, as a plunge in temperature can tip your tires over the safety edge.
Check all your car’s fluid levels and top them up if necessary. Include windshield wiper, brake, antifreeze, power steering, and transmission fluids in your check. Topping up or replacing fluids is far more comfortable when the weather is still mild.
Lastly, check all the external and internal lights, including blinkers and emergency flashers. On a cold dark morning, faulty lights can cause serious visibility risks.