Freezing temperatures and icy roads are among the challenges motorists face in many regions of the United States during winter. That means even the most reputable vehicles must be appropriately maintained to withstand winter weather conditions adequately.
There are several simple tasks you can do to ensure that your vehicle is winter-ready.
Check fluid levels
The first step to winterizing vehicles is to check fluids to see if they need to be refilled or replaced. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, a local automotive shop can perform this job for you.
Changing the oil in your vehicle on time is extremely important. Some experts suggest using a thinner oil for your car if you reside in an area with frequent below-freezing temperatures.
It is also imperative to have the right level of coolant or antifreeze in the radiator. This prevents the engine from freezing in frigid conditions. Be sure to check the engine for possible leaks where the coolant may drain out.
Fluid for your windshield wipers is another necessity - not just an adequate level of wiper fluid, but a type that is freeze-resistant. For the best results, check your owner's manual for accuracy or discuss it with a mechanic.
Know your tires
To improve traction during cold weather driving, your tires must have optimal air pressure and treads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you review the necessary pounds per square inch or PSI as described on your automobile's tire information label or in the owner's manual.
If your vehicle is not equipped with an electronic sensor for air pressure, you can easily check your tires with a gauge from a self-serve machine at a gas station. Tire pressure can decrease just as the temperature does. A tire can lose up to one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in the temperature outside.
Maximize your safety on slick roads with tires that have the proper tread depth. You can grab some coins and implement the penny test or the quarter test to assess the need for new tires.
Pack a winter emergency kit
Many of you probably already keep an emergency kit of some kind in your car at all times. First aid supplies, car jack, jumper cables, lug wrench, and more. To keep your vehicle ready for a winter emergency, pack some additional items such as a flashlight, thick blankets, gloves, ice scraper, a small shovel, and snacks.
We've all seen those news stories about commuters being stranded on a highway due to an accident or adverse weather conditions. Be prepared on the road.
Also be prepared at home by storing winterizing items, such as glycerine or a homemade de-icing spray in your kitchen or garage, for tackling frozen car door locks and windshields. Don't attempt to force your key into an icy lock or pour hot water on your frosted windshield. The outcome will not be good for either process.
Cold weather places unique demands on your car. Where you live determines how much winterizing your vehicle will require.