Winter driving is just one of the most hateful things in the universe. You have to go outside an extra 15 minutes early to warm up your car and brush the snow off.
Then, you hit the road and have to drive conservatively, even though you didn’t really leave yourself an extra 15 minutes and you’re now late for work. It’s awful. Nearly everything about it will drive you insane.
But if you’re not going to be sane, you might as well be safe. Here are a few tips to get your car ready for winter weather.
Have an Acid Test Performed
This is one that most drivers forget, or don’t know about.
You may think you don’t have to worry about anti-freeze if your car or truck has permanent anti-freeze, but that name is a bit misleading. Yes, it protects the coolant from freezing for much longer. You no longer need to change it yearly. But the additives that protect the engine do get used up.
Extended life coolant generally can last up to five years, but you will still want to have acidity levels checked. If the coolant alkalinity is too low, the coolant will have to be flushed out and filled again.
Prepare Your Windshield
Your poor windshield is the unsung hero of winter driving. You take it for granted until there’s a problem.
But it takes a beating and has to take all of winter’s worst temperatures. So give it the respect it deserves by not buying cheap windshield wipers or anti-freeze this year.
It’s your safety that you’re protecting.
Prepare Your Tires
Of course, you will want to put your snow tires on.
If you’re not sure of whether or not you need snow tires this winter, try this simple test: Are you currently reading this article? If yes, you need snow tires. You clearly live in a part of the country that’s wintery enough for you to look into winter-proofing your car.
And keep an eye on the pressure in your tires. Cold weather can cause you to lose a pound or two of pressure.
Prepare for the Worst
You should always channel your inner Boy Scout and drive prepared. That means, make yourself a winter safety kit, including:
- Ice scraper and brush
- Flashlight, candle, waterproof matches
- A warm blanket
- Warm clothing: hat, gloves
- Bag of kitty litter or sand (in case you get stuck, they provide traction)
- Small shovel (again, in case you get stuck)
- A non-perishable snack and water
This might seem like over-preparing, but having a winter safety kit and never using it is a problem you want to have.
Take a Look at Your Battery
This is a big one. Don’t ruin a day with a dead battery.
Your battery loses about 33% of its power once temperatures drop below freezing. And you can lose as much as 60% when temperatures drop below zero. So have it tested and keep jumper cables in your trunk. The day you save might be your own.