A winter wonderland can quickly turn into an icy nightmare for people who haven’t prepared their car for snow and ice. There are many different ways for car owners to ready their vehicle for the coldest months of the year, depending on their location and driving habits. Setting aside a little time and money to winterize your wheels can spare significant expenses and frustration in the months ahead.
Check Battery and Fluids
Many people ride their car battery as long as possible, sometimes well beyond the recommended lifespan. This can be a problem when the cold weather hits, though, as the batteries output drops and the engine requires more power to start. Car owners should check their battery and replace it if necessary, as well as their supply of anti-freeze and window cleaning chemicals. Both of these chemicals can help drivers operate their vehicle smoothly and safely in inclement weather.
Stock Essential Supplies
Even though drivers tend to go slower in the snow, poor traction and visibility makes minor accidents a common risk. It’s also easy to get stuck or stranded for hours in the cold, so it’s a good idea to keep the car stocked with useful supplies. Non-perishable food and a few bottles of water are a good start, as well as an emergency medical kit with wound disinfectant and other essentials. A portable shovel and sturdy snow-scraper are also incredibly useful for dealing with snow and ice.
Prepare Tires for Winter Weather
As the only point of contact with the road, your car’s tires are perhaps the single most important component to winterize. The onset of winter is a good time to rotate or replace worn-out tires to ensure better traction on slippery surfaces. Drivers who traverse non-paved roads or thoroughfares that aren’t regularly cleared of snow can also attach chains to their tires for a much stronger grip. Research local laws regarding use of tire chains on highways and other main roads before using them, as some areas fine or penalize drivers who do.
Don’t Forget Basic Maintenance
Belts, hoses, and other internal components can suffer additional strain during the cold winter months, and it can be more difficult to get a tow truck or road-side assistance in dangerous driving conditions. This means that winterizing the car should include a brief inspection and complete tune-up, if you haven’t gotten one recently. Annual maintenance checks from a professional can save a lot of money in repairs down the road.
Fully preparing your car for the snow takes a lot of the stress and uncertainty out of winter driving. Many of these strategies are relatively cheap and easy to do, so there’s little excuse for waiting to winterize your wheels.