As the days get colder, winter preparations begin. You might start pulling your cozy sweaters out from the back of your closet, or fill in the cracks around windows and doors. Just like you want to prepare your home and yourself for the coming months, you should also prepare your car. Getting your vehicle ready for winter goes far beyond just swapping out your tires (although that is important!) and is incredibly important to make sure that you stay safe while driving, and your car stays safe from the elements.
Winter Preparations of Car
Before the cold snap sets in, check out these steps you can take to get your car ready for winter.
Test Your Battery
It’s always good to stay on top of car maintenance, and know how much charge is in your battery. In the winter, however, this is even more important. Cold weather can diminish battery capacity. If your battery is getting old and not holding as much charge, now might be the time to replace it. In any case, you should always keep jumper cables or a jump box in your car in case of a dead battery.
Check Your Glass
Freezing temperatures can cause glass to contract slightly. While generally the speed and intensity of wintertime temperature changes aren’t great enough to do damage to the glass on your vehicle, this changes if the glass is already damaged. Small imperfections like chips or little cracks aren’t uncommon; even a small piece of gravel kicked up by another vehicle’s tires can cause a chip if it hits your windshield on the highway, and when the temperatures drop it’s possible that those cracks will spread. Take a close look at your windshield and windows, and if you find a crack or chip you may want to consider repairing or replacing the glass before winter hits.
Prepare for the Weather
When you’re driving in winter weather, there are some aspects of your vehicle that you rely on more than ever. Among those features are your windshield wipers and tires. Swapping out your summer tires for a more rugged set is generally the first thing people think of when it comes to winterizing their car, and is definitely one of the most important things you can do. Experts at City Cadillac recommend opting for winter-specific tires, which provide more traction than all-weather or all-season choices. A less-obvious but still important switch you can make is your wiper blades. Winter wiper blades often have a heavier construction to keep up against snow, and synthetic rubber that stays more pliable in cold temperatures. They may also have an outer covering to prevent snow and ice from clogging the moving parts. You should also make sure your washer fluid reservoir is filled with fluid that includes an anti-freezing or melting component, like this version by Prestone or this one from Rain-X.
Make an Emergency Kit
Everyone should have a basic roadside emergency kit in their vehicle, in case you need to make small repairs on the road. During the winter months, you should add supplies to your kit for snow and ice-related emergencies. Some winter supplies you should keep in your vehicle are sand or kitty litter for traction if your car becomes stuck on a slick surface, a shovel to dig your vehicle out of snow, flares and a flashlight for low-visibility situations, extra warm clothes and a blanket, nonperishable food (like granola bars) and water in case weather leaves you stranded in your vehicle, and windshield deicer spray and an ice scraper.
The most important thing about preparing your vehicle for winter is to start early! Don’t wait until roads are freezing and snow is falling to start your preparations. Early winter can be an incredibly busy time with vacations, holidays, and all of the work that goes in to winterizing your home and vehicle. Getting your car ready for the winter months is fairly simple, and could probably be addressed in a single weekend. Go ahead and get a head start on your winter prep by taking care of your vehicle first; not only is it your best bet for staying safe, but it’ll feel good to check one thing off of your November/December laundry list before the real stress of the season sets in.