From coolant to battery levels and tires, there’s a lot to think about when getting your vehicle ready for winter. Whether you live in an area prone to snowstorms or whether it just gets really cold in your neck of the woods, here are seven simple tips that can help ensure your vehicle will run smoothly this winter:
- Coolant: When temperatures drop below freezing your engine needs the right mixture of antifreeze to keep the fluids from freezing. Your winter ratio should be 60 percent coolant to 40 percent water. Most antifreeze solutions you buy in the store come premixed. But you can check your radiator’s mixture using an antifreeze tester.
- Battery: Cold temperatures can sap the life out of your battery. Check to make sure your cable connections are snug. If the posts are corroded, clean them using baking soda, water and a metal brush. Also, check the fluid levels in your battery. If the level is below the bottom of the cap, refill with distilled water.
- Tires: If you live in a place where snow falls, you should swap your regular tires for a set of snow tires or all-weather tires. Snow tires have deeper tread and will help your car maneuver better in snowy conditions.
- Windshield: Make sure you have an ice scraper on hand and also check your wiper blades to ensure they are in good working order. Other vehicles will throw slush onto your windshield, hampering visibility. Use a windshield wiper fluid with antifreeze and make sure your fluid container is full. Don’t drive with a windshield obscured by ice.
- Locks: Sometimes icy weather can freeze your door locks. Make sure you have a can of de-icing solution handy this winter, which can quickly unfreeze those locks.
- Engine oil: When the outside temperature drops, the oil in your car takes on a thicker consistency and doesn’t circulate as well in an engine. So you may want to switch the oil you use. For example, if you normally use 10W-30, switch over to 5W-30.
- Emergency kit: Make sure your spare tire is in good shape. Pack some gloves, warm clothes, road flares and a shovel in case you are stranded. Also pack blankets, a flashlight, jumper cables and antifreeze. Stow an extra can of oil, too.
Have a fun and safe winter-driving season!