You may already be thinking about preparing your home for the winter season. You are insulating your outside pipes and are having your heat pump serviced. But as you do this, don’t forget about winterizing your vehicle as well. Winter can wreak havoc on your car, truck, SUV or minivan, so to get through whatever winter will bring, prepare your vehicle with the following tips:
Check and Clean Your Battery
Cold weather can cause your vehicle’s battery to work at about 30 percent less capacity. To be sure your car will start in cold weather, have your battery checked and serviced now. Depending on how long you have had it, the battery may have corrosion and grime building up on it, which can also negatively impact its performance, so replace or clean it if necessary.
Set up a Pre-Winter Checkup
Before the snow begins to fall, call your mechanic and schedule a time for a tune-up. Many auto shops offer winterization specials that include flushing out and changing the antifreeze and other fluids as well as making sure vital parts, like the heater and headlights, work properly. Ask your mechanic to check your vehicle’s exhaust system for any damage that may cause carbon monoxide to leak inside, and verify that you have the proper kind of cold weather motor oil added. Also, treat your vehicle to some new windshield wiper blades that can sweep away sleet, snow and hard rain.
Change Your Tires
Regardless of where you live, you should make sure your tires are winter-ready. Your tires need to have adequate treads. All-weather radials are typically a great choice for most winter weather conditions. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice, you may need to upgrade to snow tires with studs or carry chains in your vehicle. Once the cold weather hits, keep a sharp eye on your tire pressure because the cold can cause them to lose air faster than in temperate conditions.
Prepare or Update Your Emergency Kit
Now that you have the inner and outer workings of your vehicle tuned up and ready for winter, you should put together a cold-weather emergency kit. Even though you should have an emergency kit in your car year round, you may need to add extra items that are specifically for winter, such as items that will keep you warm, hydrated and safe until help arrives. Keep jumper cables, warm blankets and at least one flashlight with new batteries in your vehicle. Other items that should be part of your winter readiness kit include kitty litter (which is great for adding traction to icy roads), a small shovel, a battery-powered radio, extra clothing including hats and mittens, road flares and matches. Fill a cooler with bottles of water and shelf-stable snacks, such as granola bars, crackers and nuts, and make sure you have a first aid kit with fresh medical supplies. Finally, carry your cellphone with you at all times, and invest in a phone charger that plugs into your car.