Your car may be a machine, but it's affected by the cold just like you. To make sure you're prepped and ready for the season, take a look at this winter car care checklist to make sure you stay safe, and your vehicle stays running smoothly.
Are your tires properly inflated? Under-inflated or over-inflated tires can reduce your traction and increase your stopping distance in good conditions. Add snow or ice, and this can become very dangerous. Changes in air temperature also affect your tire pressure. A 10°F temperature drop will reduce your tire pressure by one PSI, so it's a good idea to add this car care item to your list and check them periodically during winter.
Make sure your tires have adequate tread. At least 6/32” of depth is considered minimal for braking in snow. If you're in an area with heavy snowfall on a regular basis, you may opt to put snow tires on during the winter. In areas that see more of a mix of rain, sleet, and snow, all-terrain tires often come out ahead for overall performance. If you have not rotated your tires recently, you should do so to prevent uneven wear patterns on your treads.
Check your car's coolant level before starting the engine. If it's low, add a half and half mixture of water and antifreeze. Too much water in the mixture may cause your coolant to freeze up on cold days. Remember, coolant can’t cool if it's frozen!
Obviously, being able to see is super important when it comes to avoiding accidents, so don’t overlook this critical safety factor on your car care checklist. If your windshield wipers have eroded sections or leave streaks on your window, it is time to replace them. Don't worry though - wipers are inexpensive and easy to install.
This one is easy: Turn on all of your lights (that includes the front and rear directionals, brake lights, fog lights, license plate lights, headlights, dashboard lights, and dome lights). If any light is burned out, you know what to do...replace it!
When was the last time you replaced your serpentine belt? The way modern belts are designed, you won’t see very much wear on them, so don’t rely on that as a gauge for replacement. The recommended interval is every 90,000 miles.
Battery and electrical
Everyone’s worst nightmare is a dead battery in the middle of a snowstorm. Check your battery before it gets cold to make sure it's charging properly. If it isn’t, you will want to know ahead of time. Most auto parts stores and car dealerships can do an electrical system test for you. This will let you know if the battery, alternator and fuses are working as they should.
Your brakes, transmission and steering system are critical components of your car care checklist. They all need fluids in order to operate properly, so check the quantities to make sure you’re not running low. Low fluids will wear out components a lot faster, possibly leaving you in a bad situation.
First aid/emergency kit
Cold weather can be very dangerous if you get stuck in it unexpectedly. For that reason, it is a good idea to carry first aid and emergency kits in your vehicle at all times. The purpose of the first aid kit is obvious: In case you, a passenger or another motorist is injured, you can render assistance.
The emergency kit is to help you get out of bad situations. Some of the items you will want to have in there include road flares, jumper cables, a phone charger, a snow shovel, a flashlight, bottled water, high-calorie snacks, warm clothing like jackets and hats, blankets, and a small toolkit. It sounds weird, but you may want to leave a few pounds of kitty litter or sand in your trunk as well. This can help get you out of a slippery spot by providing traction for your tires.
A reliable vehicle is most important for car care
Here at Mike Duman Auto Superstore, we hope this checklist will help you during your winter driving. Our expert technicians can help winterize your vehicle and make sure you're ready for the cold. If your vehicle hates the winter, we invite you to take a look through our online inventory to find a new ride. With over 300 vehicles in stock, you'll be sure to find a match for whatever season you'll be driving in.