When temperatures drop, your car may require extra maintenance and attention. Being prepared for winter is not just a luxury but an essential step in staying safe on the road.
Winter driving can be particularly hazardous for drivers due to icy roads and snow-covered conditions that reduce visibility. To prepare your vehicle for colder climates and keep yourself and others safe on the roads during this season, here are some helpful tips.
1. Change Your Oil
As temperatures drop, it is vital that your vehicle is winterized properly. Failing to do this could leave you stranded or needing emergency repairs when temperatures fall below freezing.
Before winter sets in, it is essential to change your oil. Colder weather can affect motor oil viscosity, slowing it down and adding extra strain on your engine. Furthermore, some car manufacturers suggest using special motor oils designed specifically for colder temperatures.
If you are uncertain of the proper oil for your vehicle, consult its owner’s manual. It should contain information on what viscosity is recommended for your make and model of car.
Once you know your engine size, you can purchase the appropriate amount of motor oil. Be sure to read the label carefully as there are different grades of oil available.
2. Check Your Battery
Before winterizing your car for colder climates, the first step you should take is checking its battery. If it’s weak, it could die when temperatures drop.
With a digital multimeter, you can quickly and accurately test your battery status. Make sure the battery is charged up and not leaking or bulging.
To test your battery, attach one lead from a multimeter to the positive (+) terminal on your battery. If your battery has a cover, remove it before conducting this test.
Next, switch on your headlights and leave them on for around 15 minutes. If they dim slightly during this time, it’s a sign that the car is charging. Otherwise, your battery may have been drained and needs to be recharged.
3. Change Your Tires
Tires are an essential component of your vehicle and should be checked as winter approaches. Maintaining good tire condition not only keeps you safe, but it can also protect the rest of your car by preventing damage.
If you’re driving on a road that frequently experiences snow, ice or other harsh weather conditions, installing specialized winter tires is recommended. Doing so will give your car better traction and enhance the driving experience overall.
All-season tires, made of soft and flexible rubber, feature a subtle tread pattern. Winter tires feature small grooves called sipes which open slightly to let the tread expand and grip the road better.
Winter tires not only improve traction, but they also protect your wheels from cracking or breaking due to cold temperatures. All-season tires tend to lose their soft, flexible structure when temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, so winter tires provide extra protection in this regard.
4. Check Your Windshield
The windshield is an essential element of your vehicle. Not only does it protect you and your passengers in case of an accident, but also helps you navigate safely through snow and ice conditions.
Many people don’t understand the purpose of the markings and dots on their windshield, but it can be beneficial to learn more about these elements. For instance, the solid black frit along the edge of the glass serves several important functions.
One purpose is to dissipate UV rays that could otherwise deteriorate the urethane sealant holding the glass in place.
Another feature is top-tinting, which darkens the outer surface of a windshield to help shield it from UV rays that could cause it to expand and crack.
Furthermore, you’ll often notice a stamp at the bottom corner of your windshield which technicians in the automotive glass industry refer to as a “bug.” This bug provides both drivers and glass technicians with important data about your windshield’s condition.