As Fall begins to wind down…
We need to prepare ourselves for the upcoming winter months. Slow, sleet, and freezing rain will introduce a variety of challenges to our everyday lives, not the least of which is simply keeping our vehicles operating safely.
There are a number of things you can do right now to ensure that your car will operate successfully and safely throughout the winter months.
Keep a “winter supply” box in your car.
This is the single most important thing that you can do for your car and for your personal safety. Keeping winter supplies in your trunk can make all the difference when you run into trouble on the road on a cold winter day.
Here’s a quick list of items you should keep handy: a flashlight, road flares, a first-aid kit, a few blankets, a change of warm clothes for the driver, a few extra pairs of gloves, a radio, a charged cell-phone for 911 calls, a bag of sand or kitty litter (for traction), an extra ice scraper, and some high-energy snacks (like nuts or jerky).
Keeping these items in large Rubbermaid containers in the garage through spring, summer and fall is a great way to stay prepared throughout the year. The containers are loaded with these items and safely stored away until winter, then you can check them over to make sure you are fully stocked and place in your trunk when the time is ready.
Check your engine coolant and antifreeze levels.
Antifreeze is the substance that keeps your engine from freezing during those times of the year when you feel like an ice cube yourself. Without it, your engine can freeze, leaving you in a world of trouble at a time when it’s dangerous to be stranded.
A kit for checking you engine coolant levels is obtainable at nearly every auto supply store. Using that kit can let you know quickly if you have an appropriate coolant mix. You can also directly check your antifreeze levels by following the instructions in your car’s manual. Adding more antifreeze is very simple, to, if you need to do it yourself.
Check your tire pressure and tread depth.
Good tires are the key to staying safe on the road and being able to drive safely when the weather is questionable. Here are some simple steps to make sure your tires are in good shape.
First, check your tire pressure with a simple gauge sold at any auto supply store. Follow your manual’s recommendations for pressure levels, and if your tires need air, fill them up at a gas station.
You should also make sure that your tires have appropriate amounts of tread on them. The simple test is called the “Lincoln Test” – just insert a penny into your tire’s tread with the top of Lincoln’s head pointing inward toward the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need to replace the tire before winter weather commences.
Because we live in a particularly wintery climate, you may want to consider installing winter tires before the season begins, as they will make all the difference when it comes to getting around.
Use winter windshield wiper fluid.
Did you know that not all windshield wiper fluid is the same? Winter fluid is designed for rigorous winter weather and won’t freeze on your windshield. In fact, it actually helps loosen ice and snow from your windshield, making it much easier to keep it clear. You may want to think about switching to new blades too.