It is the “most wonderful time of the year” again for people living in the northern hemisphere. Nonetheless, along with the jovial feel are tedious preparations to ensure that not only our families and homes are safe, but also that vehicles are in their top condition even during this winter season.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of weather-related accidents each year happen on snowy, icy, or slushy pavements, killing over 1,300 people and injuring over 116,800. Furthermore, 15 percent of these accidents happen during snowfall.
Snow-covered grounds might look lovely, but wintry conditions could catch you off guard and create added hazards on the road. With good planning and preparations though, you can ensure your car withstands any harsh winter conditions.
Car Maintenance Checklist During Winter Season
Clean the Exterior
Most people never really mind about their car’s exterior during winter, let alone washing all the snow, ice, salt, and sand that have built up while driving on the winter road. However, caring for your car’s exterior is an important part of vehicle maintenance during the winter season.
It is a good idea to get your car a good washing and waxing before sand, ice, and snow starts to build up. Doing this helps avoid rust from occurring. Also, your car’s interior needs the same amount of care as well. Clean your car using a Dyson vacuum cleaner to remove any dust and dirt on your car’s carpet.
Change the Oil
Another thing some people overlook in their vehicle’s winter maintenance is the oil. Car experts suggest switching to synthetic oil from conventional ones, as full synthetic oil makes it easier to start your engine running, giving instant protection on your car’s engine.
However, if you are not ready to make the switch, you may try a synthetic blend. As its name suggests, it is a mixture of conventional and synthetic oil, costing 30 percent less than full synthetic oil. Also, before making any switches, confirm which oil best suits your vehicle.
Prolong Battery Life
The warm summer weather could take a toll on your car battery, and you can immediately notice this when you have difficulty starting your car on a really cold winter morning. Experts highly suggest keeping your battery fully charged, especially during cold seasons.
One major cause of car breakdowns during winter are flat or faulty batteries. Without checking on your battery and making sure it is in good condition could leave you with a dead battery in the middle of nowhere while traveling on the icy and snowy ground. And you do not want that to happen.
Check Windshield Wipers
Ensuring you have good visibility while driving is extremely important during winter. Apart from making sure your headlights and tail lights are properly working, you also need to check whether your windshield wipers are in their top condition.
Consider replacing your windshield wipers with winter blades and keep your windshield washer tank filled with wiper fluid with de-icing capabilities. Before turning on your wiper blades for use, give them some time to unfreeze. Wiping a rag with de-icer windshield washer fluid could help speed up the process.
Change Your Tires
Making sure you have the right winter tires for your vehicle is crucial. Not only will it make a huge difference in your driving performance, but it is a must-have to keep you safe while traversing those icy winter roads. You would need tires that have good traction to withstand the slippery condition of winter roads.
A pro tip from car experts is to have at least a minimum tread depth of 3/32. Furthermore, if you frequently drive on uneven roads during winter, it would not hurt to invest in some snow chains for your tires. Have a roadworthy spare as well just in case you would need it.
Check Your Antifreeze
Other than de-icing fluid, antifreeze is another important winter liquid for your car’s maintenance. Antifreeze could either be propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. It helps keep water on your cooling system from freezing, bursting, and causing massive damage to your vehicle’s engine.
Aside from having your antifreeze tested for its strength in keeping your engine protected at the lowest surrounding temperature, have your coolant replaced if it is over 2 to 5 years. The need for coolant replacement largely depends on your car’s model and the type of coolant it uses.
Carry an Emergency Kit
You never know when your car will break down while you are driving in the middle of the night, far from home, and in stormy winter weather. Although we all wish this would never happen to any of us, it is best to stay prepared for this type of situation.
It is practical to keep items, such as an ice scraper, shovel, flashlight with batteries, and blanket, in your vehicle’s trunk. Include as well as non-perishable food items and water in your emergency kit.
Considering all of this, it would also be a great idea to visit your local mechanic and have your vehicle checked to ensure that it could withstand even the harshest winter condition.