Winter driving can be perilous, especially for drivers living in areas that receive a lot of snowfall. Fortunately, taking the proper steps to get your card ready for winter can help you minimize many of the risks associated with driving in cold temperatures and snowy conditions.
Need a handy checklist to help you out? We’ve got one!
1. Check Your Tires
Consider switching to winter tires if your area generally receives heavy snow, and you can expect icy conditions. All-terrain tires are usually a perfectly adequate solution for more temperate areas.
Whether or not you’ll be switching tires, always ensure they have good tread and are inflated correctly.
2. Check Your Battery
Your car’s battery has to work overtime in winter, too. Extreme cold has a negative impact on its power. Checking your battery is a vital part of getting your car ready for winter — and you should look for corrosion, swelling, cracks, and leaks.
Is your battery old? Now’s the right time to replace it.
3. Check Your Windshield Wipers and Fluid
Visually inspect your windshield wipers, looking out for wear and tear. Replace them if they’re worn out, and consider investing in winter wipers if you live in an especially snowy area.
Replace your windshield washer fluid with a winter-ready formula that will have you maintain visibility and peace of mind if your area has harsh winters. If not, you’ll still want to ensure you have sufficient wiper fluid.
4. Check Your Antifreeze and Coolant
Winter is hard on your car’s engine. Without the right mix of water and antifreeze, your engine could freeze (and potentially crack). Make sure your coolant is at the right level before the first frost!
5. Check the Oil
Motor oil thickens in the winter, and that’s even more problematic if it’s old and dirty. An oil change gets your car ready for winter. If you recently changed the oil, a top-up will do the job.
6. Check Your Brakes
Winterizing your car also requires a good look at the brakes. Does your brake fluid need to be refilled? Are your brake pads wearing out? Have your brakes inspected professionally to be on the safe side.
7. Check Your Heater and Defroster
Visibility is the number one reason to make sure your heater and defroster are in good working order as you head into winter. However, if you live in an especially cold area, staying warm yourself is just as important!
8. Clean and Treat the Doors
Your doors, hood, and trunk can get stuck in freezing weather. Clean them and apply a light coating of oil to the edges to prevent that.
9. Consider Replacing Your Headlights
You’ll need to use your headlights more in winter, too — and they may burn out at any time. If you haven’t replaced your headlights in a good while, now’s the time to take care of that. Remember to replace your headlights in pairs.
10. Check Your Belts and Hoses
Belts and hoses are under greater strain in cold temperatures and in snowy conditions, too. Check them for damage and signs of wear and tear to get your car ready for winter.
11. Update Your Emergency Kit
The emergency kit you carry in your car in winter should include:
- A good first-aid kit
- Warm blankets
- A flashlight
- Food and water
You’ll also want to throw in some booster cables, an ice scraper, and a shovel.
If you’re driving in remote areas with spotty cell service in winter, you may also consider adding a flare gun and radio or satellite phone to your kit.
A Final Word
Taking the right steps to get your car ready for the winter optimizes its performance — and reduces your risk of breaking down and being stranded. If you have any questions or you’re not sure about any of the suggestions on this list, consult a trusted mechanic. A mechanic can winterize your vehicle for you, so you don’t have to worry.