Unless you live in Florida or Southern California, chances are pretty good that this winter is going to be less than fun for you, and for your car. Just as you take steps to winterize your home, and your lawn, so, too, should you prepare your vehicle for the arctic (okay, maybe not quite arctic) conditions ahead.
Have your oil changed.
Check your car’s owner’s manual, and then consult with your lube technician about which oil is best for different climates and temperatures. When the weather gets cold, motor oil thickens, and when motor oil thickens, it can’t do its job as well.
Replace your windshield wiper blades.
Eventually, that white stuff they call snow will begin falling from the sky. I don’t know about you out there, but when that happens, I stay inside as much as possible. But in the event that you have to venture out behind the wheel, it’s important that you’re able to see. Windshield wiper blades typically last about a year; November is a great time to change them.
Check your battery.
Check posts and connections to make sure they’re corrosion-free; it might even be a good idea to have a certified auto repair technician check your battery’s ability to hold a charge — especially if it’s more than three years old. Trust us: The last thing you want to deal with on a snowy day is a dead battery.
Check belts and hoses, too.
While you have the technician’s attention, have him check your car’s belts and hoses for wear and tear. Extreme cold temperatures can do significant damage to these, and they should be inspected regularly.
Check your tire pressure.
A general rule of thumb: Your tires lose air pressure at a rate of one pound per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Properly inflated tires are the best way to ensure maximum traction; as traction is harder to maintain in wet, icy conditions, you’d be wise to stack the cards in your favor.
Keep an emergency kit handy.
Better safe than sorry, I always say. Pick up a waterproof bag (from wherever waterproof bags are sold) and stuff it with a blanket, an extra set of dry clothes, a flashlight, flares, jumper cables, tire chains, a gauge, a first aid kit, and maybe even water and food. Keep this bag in your trunk for use in the event of an emergency. You’ll be glad you did.