Does anyone remember the snow, sleet and ice brought to us by last year’s “polar vortex?” The forecast for winter 2015 doesn’t look too much different, and that means that car owners like you must prepare for the worst, especially if you plan to travel.
What should you do to get your vehicle ready for winter? It has everything to do with staying on top of routine maintenance and outfitting the car with appropriate cold weather gear where necessary.
Think About Cold Weather Battery Care
We can think of few things less pleasant than trying to start the car on a chilly winter morning and realizing that the battery is dead. Avoid this situation now by getting your battery tested and checking all connections for dirt and corrosion. Extreme temperatures are tough on vehicle batteries so you want to make sure that yours is in good condition from the get-go. Remember: Never try to jumpstart a frozen battery. How do you know if the battery is frozen? If temperatures have been in single digits for a number of days, if ice is forming around terminal connections, or if the vehicle won’t crank at all, there is a chance of that it is frozen. Attempting to jumpstart can result in a dangerous explosion. Instead, bring the battery inside for a a day or two to let it warm up and try again from there.
Make Sure All Lights and Signals are Functional
Though your vehicle’s dash light will likely alert you in the event of a fully burnt out bulb, it’s smart to check that all lights and signals are operating properly and to clean all headlights. Darker days and dangerous driving conditions mean that drivers must make every effort to maximize visibility. Another important tip to this end: replace old wiper blades.
Test the Heater and Defroster
It is uncomfortable and in some cases downright dangerous to have a malfunctioning car heater in the winter time. Reasons for a broken heater are generally related to the health of the cooling system and include low coolant, a plugged heater core, or a damaged thermostat. If the heat isn’t working, it is vital that you get your vehicle to a professional who specializes in engine repair, as it is often a signal of bigger engine problems.
Since it is a secondary function of a car’s AC system, issues with the defroster often come along with heater problems. A windshield that won’t defrost is extremely unsafe.
Check Tire Tread
It seems like we mention this once a blog post, but proper tire maintenance is ESSENTIAL for safe winter driving. Tires that are thread bare will slip and slide on ice. Remember: if you do the “Penny Test” by placing a penny head down into several places on the tire tread and see Lincoln’s head…you need new tires.
Drive Smartly and Be Prepared
In addition to having an ice scraper or two on hand, we suggest that all families keep an emergency kit in the trunk that includes plenty of bottled water, non perishable food, a flashlight, extra medications, blankets, and flares.
When it comes to winter driving, one should always take care to accelerate and brake slowly and observe all posted speed limits (especially in inclement weather).
If you can, try to keep your gas tank at least half full when weather is below freezing. Failure to do so can cause the fuel lines to freeze.
Be mindful of exhaust. In the event of snow, be sure to keep your exhaust pipe free of snow, as a blocked pipe can filter carbon monoxide into the vehicle’s cabin.
Is your vehicle ready for winter and holiday road trips? Bring it into any of our 3 American Pride locations during the month of November and we will make sure it is with a free Travel Safe Checkup. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.