Now that we are finally enjoying some gorgeous fall weather, it’s time to start changing gears in all areas to get ready for a very cold winter. Because of El Niño, meteorologists are predicting below-normal temperatures in Hampton Roads and on the Virginia peninsula. This means that we could be in for more property damage and safety risks from snow and ice than in previous years. While you clean your gutters, weatherstrip windows and doors, and turn off exterior water spigots, consider these tips for winterizing your vehicle.
1. Construct an Emergency Kit.
As we all know, icy and snowy conditions can stop traffic on interstate 64 and 664. It’s important to be prepared if you get stranded on the road due to traffic or vehicle failure. A good winter emergency kit should include:
- Extra coolant/antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid
- Distilled water to mix with coolant if necessary
- Emergency flashers
- Drinking water
- Non-perishable foods like protein bars and dried fruit
- Spare tire
- Hand warmers
- Basic toolkit
- Vehicle fire extinguisher
- Extra clothing
- Kitty litter! It works like a dream for adding traction when stuck in snow or ice.
2. Check the coolant
The cooling system is your engine’s best defense against locking up due to freezing temperatures. Make sure the anti-freeze in the coolant reservoir is at or slightly below “max” level. Anything less could be a sign of a cooling system leak. If you do check the levels yourself, remember to only do so first thing in the morning when the engine is cold.
3. Check the tires
We’ve talked about it again and again. Do the penny test on your tires to make sure that the tread is adequate. This is especially important during the wintertime, as bare tires are a huge hazard in slippery conditions. You should also test the pressure weekly.
4. Have a professional check the belts and hoses
Especially if your vehicle is older, we recommend getting a winter tune-up and inspection to ensure that the various components under the hood are in good working condition. Cold weather can put added stress on these components.
5. Replace windshield wipers
Unless you’ve switched out wiper blades in the past year, it’s probably a good idea to do it now. Also, consider adding a de-icer to wiper fluid, as this can be a big help on those super-cold mornings.
6. Test the battery
Most car batteries fail during the winter because of freezing temperatures. Get your battery levels tested and make sure that all connections are free of debris. As a safeguard,include jumper cables in your emergency kit.
Trust American Pride Automotive to get your car ready for winter. We offer overall tune-ups and vehicle inspections that can make the difference between a safe vehicle and a dangerous one on wintry roads. Contact the location closest to you (Williamsburg, Yorktown, Toano) while the weather still cooperates!