7 Simple Ways to Prep Your Car for Winter

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Now is the time to winterize

7 Simple Ways to Prep Your Car for Winter

Samantha Suarez
NOVEMBER 19, 2016

If you live (or visit relatives) in a cold-weather state like our beloved Michigan, you already know how harsh winter driving can be. Beyond commutes being more challenging and uncomfortable, it can also be dangerous if you aren't prepared. Just because winter is coming doesn't mean you have to "know nothing," like a certain Jon Snow, when it comes to making cold-weather driving more manageable. Here are some simple steps every driver should take to prep their car for winter.

 

1. Get a winter-grade oil change

Your car's routine maintenance is snow laughing matter (*wink wink*)... And there's no better excuse to get it done than the winter time! Oil change is probably one of the most important ones not to skip - not to mention choosing the right type of oil for cold weather. Oil tends to thicken as temperatures drop. When it gets too thick, it may not be effective at keeping your engine lubricated. For this reason, some mechanics recommend switching to a thinner oil if you live in an area with harsh winters. We'd say West Michigan qualifies for that!

 

2. Replace your windshield wiper and use winter windshield wiper fluid

What's more important than seeing properly when you're driving? Windshield wipers usually last for about a year before getting janky, so replace them if needed! Also be sure to use proper windshield wiper fluid, not water. While wiper fluid is often overlooked, water will especially not do the trick this time of year because it freezes. While you're at it, also make sure your heater and defroster are working to be extra certain that your windshield is good and clear.

Gezon Motors Special on Windshield Wipers

Gezon Motors Special on Windshield Wipers

 

3. Give your battery a little TLC

Sometimes it isn't just your engine that doesn't start in the winter. Extreme cold can cause a good battery to start slow and can completely kill an older or bad one. Have it tested (and charged or replaced if necessary) by a certified shop, especially if your battery is over three years old.

Gezon Motors Special on Free Battery Check

Gezon Motors Special on Free Battery Check

 

4. Check your tire pressure (and replace tires if needed)

When driving, your tires have to be well-inflated if you want the best possible traction.  Air pressure in tires tends to drop as the weather gets colder. Since accidents are more common in the winter, with icy roads causing slips and slides, it's important to make they're properly inflated. If you want to play it extra safe, consider switching to snow tires, especially if you live in an area with hills and thick snow. They may be a valuable investment, since they are built with a rubber compound that is more pliable in the winter, causing enhanced traction and control. Summer tires, on the other hand, take longer to stop and often skid when making quick maneuvers.

 

5. Get the right antifreeze (coolant) mixture for your engine

Antifreeze is the magical substance that keeps your engine from freezing during the winter. Without it, your car may not start, and you could wind up stranded somewhere with no one nearby to help. To avoid this, aim to have a 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. This will prevent freezing, even at ridiculously cold temperatures. You can easily check the status of the mixture with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which you can pick up at any auto shop.

 

6. Prepare a "winter supply box" to keep in your car

Store this stuff in your trunk, and you'll be glad you did if you ever get stranded:

  • A blanket (get an electric one if you want extra heat)
  • Extra boots, gloves, and a heavy coat
  • An extra set of warm clothes (thermals, preferably!)
  • Water and food (snack bars, nuts, candies, and anything non-perishable)
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • An ice scraper and a small shovel
  • A tow rope (in case you get stuck and someone needs to pull your car out)
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Flares (in case you get stranded and need to call for help)
  • Jumper cables
  • A toolkit
  • A spare tire and tire-changing equipment
  • A first-aid kit
  • Paper towels
  • A small trash can
  • A spare smartphone charger or portable battery pack
  • A bag of sand, salt, or kitty litter (anything made of abrasive material) for extra traction in case your tire gets stuck in snow
  • Make sure your gas tank is always as full as it can be!
 

7. Consider a roadside assistance membership

Having roadside assistance like AAA can really help in an emergency, especially if you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you can't get immediate help from a friend or family member, roadside assistance will be a lifesaver. It will also help you feel more secure when you're driving in the winter, knowing that if the worst happens, you're won't be alone for long.

Follow this "winter driving survival guide" and soon you'll be saying, "Snow day? Snow problem!" Above all, don't forget to drive safe. ■


Categories:   General
Tags: TipsGezon Motors

  

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