Winter weather always means making some changes to the daily routine. Like most people, the first snowfall finds me digging out winter boots, putting away bicycles and other outdoor gear, changing my furnace filter, and doing some other general winterizing.
And in recent years, I’ve learned just how important it is to go through that same winterizing process on my car! Colder temperatures can cause more wear on a vehicle, and slippery roads can make issues like worn brakes or tires more obvious. A bit of proper winter maintenance can go a long way towards ensuring a smooth ride all winter!
Wondering where to get started? Prepare your car for winter driving by following these seven tips:
1. Check Your Battery
Car batteries often die during the cold winter months because of the extra strain put on them due to the weather. Thicker car oil makes the engine harder to turn over, and a cold battery has reduced cranking power. Check the battery to ensure that there is no bulging in the casing, and no corrosion on the terminals. A quick cleaning of the terminals if needed can go a long way to ensuring a smooth winter start! If there are any visible issues, check with a professional to see if a new batter is needed.
2. Check Tire Pressure
Since cold air contracts and warm air expands, most vehicles lose some tire pressure when the temperature drops. When the first cold spell arrives, check the tire pressure and add more air if necessary. Leaving the tire pressure lower than it should be wears tires out faster, and decreases handling. If your car doesn’t have a built-in tire pressure monitor, keep a gauge in your car and get in the habit of checking during fill-ups.
3. Get a Set of Winter Tires
Many people get through the entire year with a single set of all-season tires. But if you really want to ensure you’re driving safely in the winter, a set of winter tires may be well worth the expense! Specially designed to provide better grip on icy surfaces thanks to both the rubber used and the tread pattern, switching to winter tires in cold weather is the best way to ensure you’re driving safely in even the worst winter weather.
4. Inspect Brakes
Changing brake pads and rotors regularly is crucial for safe driving. And in the winter, brakes are under much more strain. Make sure to check the brake system at least once during the winter to ensure all parts are still in good condition. The increase in moisture and potentially the use of salt on roads may lead to rust on rotors, while needing to bake more heavily on icy surfaces increases wear on brake pads. If you notice any signs of wear, replacing parts promptly will help keep you driving safe.
5. Change Oil, Brake and Washer Fluid
Ensure your engine is running smoothly and your brakes are working their best by changing your oil and brake fluid when winter arrives. A DIY oil change is actually quite easy, and helps ensure your car is running its best. Changing brake fluid can help ensure that condensation isn’t building up in brake fluid and reducing its effectiveness. And of course, ensuring you have winter washer fluid instead of the summer formula will prevent fluid lines from freezing and affecting visibility.
6. Inspect and Rotate Tires
Checking your tires when winter arrives is one of the most important things you can do to prepare your car for winter. If they’re worn out, replace them with your favourite set of Michelin tires. If they’re still in good shape, then just rotating them will help increase their lifespan. Rotating ensures even wear so tires last longer, and grip better.
7. Replace Wiper Blades
Wiper blades are one of the cheapest parts to replace on your car. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook them! Having good wiper blades improves visibility in stormy weather, so consider putting on a new set right before the start of winter. Cold temperatures do cause some damage to wiper blades, so starting the season with a fresh set is always a good idea.
These 7 steps are a great starting point to prepare your car for winter. Not only will you enjoy a safer ride all season, you may save yourself from larger repair bills in the future by taking care of small issues immediately!
If you do notice any additional issues, then getting a mechanic to diagnose and potentially repair any problems is a must. When it comes to winter driving, there’s no such thing as being too safe!