While it isn’t officially winter just yet, you certainly wouldn’t know by some of the temperatures we have had as late (an according to the Farmer’s Almanac, we can expect more than our normal share of precipitation this winter, likely in the form on snow). In any case, winter is right around the corner; December 21st is the official start of winter. With cold weather comes a few ‘must do’ items to prepare your vehicle for optimal performance and winter travel. We’ve also included some things you should do in the winter to prepare yourself for the ‘unexpected’.
Check engine coolant/anti-freeze levels
Antifreeze (A.K.A. coolant) keeps your engine from freezing during cold weather. Without it, your engine might freeze, leaving you stranded during winter travel. You can easily do-it-yourself by following the directions in your vehicle manual. Adding more coolant is very simple if you need to do so. Anti-freeze is inexpensive and can be picked up at any auto supply store (such as O’Reilly’s), many grocery stores, and places like Target or Wal-Mart. If you would rather take it to a professional, most mechanical places will do this for a minimal fee. We recommend using Steve Landers Toyota, Steve Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram, or Steve Landers Kia.
Replace worn windshield wipers, wiper fluid & repair rock chips
This is also a good time to check and see if you may need some new wiper blades. Blades that are worn can hinder driving visibility when it’s snowing, sleeting, or raining outside. These are relatively easy to change yourself but can be inexpensively done by most any auto mechanic shop. Additionally, you will want to change out your windshield wiper fluid to a winter mix so that it doesn’t freeze up in your wiper fluid reservoir or on your windshield. Winter fluid can help loosen ice and snow from your windshield, making it much easier to keep things clear. If you have a rock chip in your glass, you will want to get this repaired quickly as rock chips tend to become huge cracks in your windshield much more rapidly when you have dramatic changes in temperature (running your heater/defrost can create that dramatic change on a cold windshield). Steve Landers Collision & Glass does repair windshields and replace glass.
Change to a winter grade oil
In colder weather it is better to have a thinner oil in your engine. The viscosity of your oil indicated by the first number in the oil specification, a lower number indicates better viscosity for cold weather. For example, a 5W-30 oil is better in the winter than a 10W-30 oil. You should consider switching to an oil with a lower viscosity grade at your next oil change. You vehicle will perform better during winter travel if you do so.
Check your tire pressure and tread depth
While you cannot control the weather to prevent ice or snowfall, you can do your part to ensure safer driving conditions for you and others on the road around you by ensuring your tires are in good condition. This can be key to keeping your vehicle safely on the road. To check your tires all you need is a tire gauge. Check your owner’s manual to find the recommended pressure level. If you find you need air, most gas stations offer free air for tire fill-ups. In order to check your tread depth, the only tool you need is a penny (for real, a one cent coin is the only tool you need). Insert the penny into your tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head pointing inward towards the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, you need to replace your tire as your thread it too worn.
Clear off your car
While you may be tempted to take off down the road for a quick trip to the store without fully clearing off your vehicle off ice and snow, it is important to fully clear off your car. Visibility is more limited when you don’t scrap the ice fully off the mirrors and all your glass surfaces on the vehicle. Additionally, you will want to clear the snow off the hood, trunk lid, and roof of your vehicle because as your drive it will melt down into your view or blow off onto the vehicle behind you, again creating a visibility hazard.
Keep your car’s gas talk half-full
While you may be more tempted in the winter to run your car talk closer to empty before stopping for gas, it is a good idea to ensure that your vehicle’s gas tank does not go below half-full. One reason for this is that it reduces the change for condensation in your fuel tank. Condensation in your fuel tank can make your car harder to start on cold winter mornings. Another reason to keep more gas in the car is for safety purposes – you could get stuck in snow and ice during your winter travel and need more gas to keep your car idling and the heat on.
Charge your cell phone before heading out
Let’s be real, it is always a good idea to have your phone charged before leaving the house no matter what the weather holds in store. Nothing is worse than breaking down and not being able to contact someone for help. To that end, it’s always a good idea to have a charger in your vehicle as well.
Put an emergency kit in your trunk or backseat
With the unpredictability of winter travel, its always best to be prepared. It is for this reason it is good to go ahead and put together an emergency kit to put in your vehicle. Here are some items we would suggest that you include in that kit:
- Ice scraper
- Small shovel (they make small portable ones that fold up for easy storage)
- First aid kit
- Fresh batteries
- Extra clothes
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable snacks (peanuts, protein bars, granola bars, crackers)
- Bag of sand (you might want to put a few bags of sand in your trunk if your vehicle is rear-wheel drive to help with better traction)
We hope that these tips and suggestions help you and your family to have safe winter travel this holiday season and throughout the cold months. The goal is to always arrive safely to your destination; however, accidents do happen from time to time, but when snow or ice are present on the road. If you find yourself in accident, know that Steve Landers Collision & Glass is here to help you as we are just a phone call away (501) 503-0808.