Winter driving is challenging, and winter weather is hard on your car. Preparing your vehicle ahead of time and maintaining it properly during the winter months can make it last longer and prevent costly breakdowns.
No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, you should start thinking about winter weather long before the first snowflakes start to fall. The following tips can help you prepare for the worst that winter has to offer.
Consider Snow Tires
If you get ice and snow only occasionally, you may be able to make it through the winter with your regular all-season tires, but if you are expecting frequent snowstorms, putting snow tires on your car makes a lot of sense.
All-season tires are fine for most of the year, but they often lack the grip needed for serious winter driving. There has been a trend toward wide low-profile all-season tires in recent years, and tires with that design can be particularly vulnerable in bad weather.
If you do decide to buy snow tires, having them mounted on their own wheels is a smart move. That way you can simply change wheels when winter arrives and switch back in the spring. Most good snow tires will last more than one season, so you can store them in your garage during the summer months.
Get a Pre-Winter Tune-Up
You never want to be stranded by a car problem, but a mechanical breakdown in winter can be particularly dangerous. If you find yourself stranded in the middle of a winter storm, you will have to deal with not only the inconvenience but freezing temperatures and hazardous conditions as well.
The best way to avoid such problems is to have your car thoroughly checked out before winter arrives. Take your car to the mechanic and ask them to inspect the entire vehicle, from the tires to the fluids. If it has been some time since your last tune-up, changing the spark plugs and wires can help your car run better and even improve your wintertime gas mileage. Be sure to have the mechanic check your battery and charging system as well. Winter cold can send a weak battery over the edge and cause it to fail.
Change Your Wiper Blades
Your windshield wipers will have a lot of work to do once the sleet and snow begins to fall. Keeping your windshield clear of ice and snow is critical for safe winter driving, so you will need to make sure your wipers are up to the task.
Consider purchasing wiper blades designed for winter driving. Heavy-duty wiper blades are better at clearing your windshield and keeping it clean than traditional ones. Changing wiper blades is fast and easy, and even the best blades should set you back less than $30. That’s a small price to pay for your safety and the safety of your family.
Keep Your Undercarriage Clean
Road salt can take a toll on your vehicle, making it rust prematurely and even weakening the frame. Take your vehicle to the car wash as soon as possible after each snowstorm and keep it as clean as possible.
Be sure to wash the underside of the vehicle as thoroughly as you can, since that is where salt tends to accumulate. Keeping your car cleaned can mitigate the damage done by road salt and other winter hazards.
Clean your headlights thoroughly every time you wash your car. A build-up of road salt can dim your lights and make night driving more dangerous. Applying a bit of wax to the headlights can stop ice and snow from sticking to them and improve your visibility in poor driving conditions.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Your tires can lose a lot of air during cold weather driving, so be sure to check your tire pressure every time you fill the gas tank. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure in each tire and use a good tire gauge to make sure you have enough air.
Driving on under-inflated tires can be dangerous, so you should take this step seriously. Getting into the habit of checking the tire pressure with every fill-up is the best way to stay safe on the road.
Now is the perfect time to get a head start on winter weather. Snow and ice are hard on your car, and preparing ahead of time can keep you and your vehicle safe no matter how bad the weather gets.
Keep Your Car From Rusting
With snow and ice and water, your car is prone to rust.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to keep it from rusting. I’ve already mentioned rinsing out the undercarriage of your car after driving in inclement weather as soon as you can. The important thing is to wash away those chemicals and the salt that has been mixed with them.
Additional preventive measures can be helpful as well in avoiding premature rusting. You can always install an electronic rust prevention device. Through this device, a small electric current will be sent through your car’s frame which will then prevent rust from forming. This may sometimes require special coatings. You may need to make additional purchases to make it work. This is not necessary, though, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful.