Just as it’s important to prepare your home and offices for winter, it’s essential to prepare your car as well. Making sure that your car is ready to hurdle down the road during winter is a critical safety issue.
Winter roads can be dangerous, and driving on them without preparation can be really tough if not impossible. But by making appropriate winter preparations for car, such as servicing your car, getting a winter car emergency kit, and learning what it takes to drive safely through ice and snow, could save your life.
Important Tips to Get Ready Your car for winter
Here you find the best winter preparation for car checklist;
- Service your car for winter conditions
- Invest in winter tires
- Maintain adequate tire pressure
- Check your tire tread
- Fill wiper washer fluid
- Install winter wipers
- Fill the gas tank
- Put the heater in good working condition
- Keep the defrosters in good working condition
- Learn winter driving skills
- Invest in winter survival kits
Service your car for winter conditions
Just the same way you prepare your home for winter, service your car and prepare it so you can survive the cold out there.
Use the right coolant: Auto manufacturers generally recommend maintaining a 50/50 or 70/30 water and antifreeze ratio. Contact your dealer or mechanic and ask for the recommended coolant for your car and the best water-to-antifreeze ratio that will help prevent freezing and corrosion.
Replace weak battery: Car batteries usually deplete during extreme cold weather conditions, meaning it takes enough power to start a car in extreme cold weather. If your battery is weak or already having issues, replace it before the winter storm strikes. Always get batters with 600 or more CCA for optimal winter operation.
Fix your brakes: Let’s get it clear; cold weather conditions do not hurt your brakes. However, you should inspect and ensure the brakes are working pretty fine before the winter comes.
Inspect and ensure other things like hoses, belts, spark plugs, wires, and ignition coils are in good condition. These components can fail at any time, but you don’t want any of them to fail during winter because it may leave you in the cold for long.
Invest in winter tires.
You can use all-season tires in winter, but it won’t give you optimum performance like quality winter tires. So, if you have the money, switch to winter tires. But if you don’t, you can still use your all-season tires. Remember, winter tires decrease your miles per gallon. So, only install winter tires during harsh winter months.
Maintain adequate tire pressure: Low air pressure can be dangerous on winter roads. Visit a tire shop, have them check your air pressure, and add more air as required. More importantly, you should learn how to fix low air pressure because every 10-degree change in temperature could result in a loss of 1 PSI. So, you have to check your tires more often in winter.
Check your tire tread: If you want to run the winter with your all-season tires, check the treads and ensure it is okay for the winter. I recommend a tire penny test. You can do this by inserting a penny into the tire grooves. Insert the penny with the Lincoln head facing down. If the entire Lincoln head is visible while in the groove, it’s time to get a new set of tires.
Aside from that, rotate the tires to ensure they wear evenly. Tire rotations are usually scheduled every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
Install winter wipers
Winter wipers are designed with rubbers that keep ice from holding down the blades. Do not forget to change them when spring comes. Winter wipers are heavier, and keeping them all the time puts more load on the wiper motor.
Fill the wiper washer fluid: Keep the wiper fluid full. Check and refill it often because a single snowstorm can take half the reservoir. Also, ensure you have wiper washer fluid specifically formulated for winter.
Fill the gas tank.
A full gas tank reduces condensation, which can prevent gas lines from freezing. Another reason you should always have enough gas during the winter is that if your car ever breaks down, the engine is the only thing that will keep you warm until you get help.
Service the car heater.
Just as you need a working air conditioner when driving on a hot afternoon, you also need a working heater during winter seasons. This will keep you from freezing out inside the car, especially when traveling long distances.
Keep window defrosters in good working condition.
A fogged window can create unsafe driving conditions. This explains why several states in the US require that your windows should be clear from debris and condensation. So, when preparing your car for winter checklist, ensure the rear window defroster is in good working condition.
Learn winter driving skills.
One of the winter car tips and tricks is learning how to drive in winter so you won’t get stuck in a snow bank. The winter driving tips and trips include;
- Drive slower than usual
- Remove snow or ice from your car
- Account for extra travel time
- Keep your acceleration and deceleration slow
- Always wear seatbelt
- Don’t use cruise control
- Watch out for black ice.
Invest in winter survival kits.
Lastly, invest in a winter survival kit. The winter survival kit should contain things like a flashlight, ice scraper, bottles of water, backup phone charging sources, a blanket for heat, and non-perishable snacks in case you get stranded in a remote area.
Other things you can get for your winter survival are rock salt to melt ice/snow, windshield ice scrapper with a brush, a small shovel, battery-operated radio with extra batteries, jumper cables, tire chain, extra hats and gloves, reflectors, extra batteries, and a bag of cat litter for extra traction.
These are the best ways on how to prepare vehicles for winter. This covers preparation for both light and harsh winter.
Some related Queries
Is cold weather better for car?
No, cold weather negatively affects your car, especially the engine performance, fuel economy, battery performance, and tire grip.
Extreme cold weather thickens engine oil, making it harder for the engine to turn over. This can cause increased engine wear and slower starts. Car batteries produce less electrical power and current when it’s cold — meaning cold weather will force your car battery to work harder to start the engine.
Another negative effect of cold weather is that it can stiffen the rubber material used in producing your winter or all-season tire. This reduces tire grip even on clear pavement, which makes steering and braking more difficult.
These explain why you should prepare your truck for winter so the winter storm won’t be a burden to you.
Do cars use more fuel in winter?
Yes, cars use more fuel in winter. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical vehicle’s miles per gallon are roughly 12% lower in 20°F temperatures than at 77°F.
It takes longer for an engine to reach its optimal temperature in cold weather conditions. Cold air is also thicker and denser than warm air, which means your engine has to use more fuel to work harder.
Do engines like cold weather?
Cold weather can affect your engine performance in various ways. It can thicken the engine oil, making it harder for the engine to turn over. It also increases engine and transmission friction, leading to accelerated wear on the internal parts. It can cause the engine to take longer to reach its most fuel-efficient temperature. This will be more obvious if you are doing more short trips because the engine consumes more fuel at short trips.
Do cars run better in the heat or cold?
Cars run more efficiently in warm weather as the engine easily reaches its most fuel-efficient temperature and the engine and transmission oil flow better. But keep in mind, while cars run better in warm weather, it is when you will expect the highest rate of engine overheating.
Now you know all about winter preparation checklist for car. However, winter preparation for cars without learning winter driving skills is not enough. Conditions like “black ice,” a layer of ice that is nearly invisible and caused by ice/snow freezing or melting, and snowstorm whiteouts, which hamper visibility, often make driving on winter unpredictable. Therefore, the best winter preparation for a car is learning winter driving skills.
While you prepare for the next winter storm, don’t forget to learn winter driving skills that will keep you safe out there. Another thing you must not forget is the winter survival kit.