Is it worth taking the extra time to prepare your vehicle for winter driving?
We know that it takes extra time to prepare your vehicle for the change in driving conditions and we believe that it is time well spent. Winter only amplifies issues with your vehicle, so if things were so-so before, winter will only make it worse. Each year, there are over 5,870,000 auto accidents in the United States. Twenty-three percent of those wrecks (over a million!) are caused by hazardous weather and poor visibility.
This means that the snow and ice truly do have an impact on everyone’s safety when driving. To help keep you safe in changing conditions, here are our top 9 items to consider when making sure you are prepared for these upcoming months.
Top 9 Tips To Prepare Your Vehicle For Winter
1. Have Appropriate Tires
Different conditions call for different tires. Cold and snowy roads can almost double the distance you need to stop compared to dry and warm roads based on what tires you have. Make sure you have plenty of tread and seasonal-appropriate tires, such as "All Season or Hybrid" style tires. All Season or Hybrid tires perform very well in the snow and ice.
2. Check Your Brakes
If your brakes felt soft before winter, they will feel even worse in the cold. Snow and ice will only make issues worse for your braking distance. Make sure your brakes are in top condition to keep you safe in winter.
3. Antifreeze/Coolant Levels
If your coolant is too low, your heater can underperform or stop working. Make sure your levels are adequate. Coolant helps keep your engine from freezing in the winter so maintaining the proper level is very important. An engine that freezes have a higher risk of needing to be replaced.
4. Headlights & Tail Lights
Visibility is a concern when driving the in snow. Daytime running and headlight bulbs become a main method for being seen on the road. Your tail light are even more critical. Make sure you don’t have salt build up on your headlight or tail light lenses, because it will decrease your visibility.
5. Wiper Blades
A mechanic’s secret here is to never turn on your wipers until they have been freed up by pulling them away from the windshield and out of the ice or heavy snow. We recommend brushing the snow off and then setting your blades back down. There's a high chance that you could strip out your wiper motor or gear and then your wipers will not work. If you want to take your wiper blades to the next level during winter months there are specific wiper blades made for snow and ice that have a difference in quality of material. Though they are not necessary, some people love adding them to their vehicle during winter months.
6. Washer Fluid
Make sure your levels are adequate and are using an ice-melting fluid. Not using ice-melting fluid is a sure fire way to have a windshield covered in ice that you can no longer see out of.
The cold weather takes a toll on batteries. Nothing is worse than being late to an event because your vehicle won't start. Get a battery test to make sure your battery is up for any temperature. If your battery is older than 4 years and you are heading into winter we suggest you get it replaced. The additional stress on the battery the cold causes can often lead to the battery failing unexpectedly.
8. Snowbrush & Ice Scraper
A must have in the Midwest in the winter. Get one you enjoy, but one that also can get all of the snow off your roof so you don’t have leaks when the snow is melted off your car. If you cannot reach your roof or windshield, you may consider buying a longer snow brush or one that can reach across your vehicle.
9. Emergency supplies
Before any major trip, make sure you have what you need in case of an emergency. Supplies may include: phone charger, blankets, snow boots, jumper cables, shovel, sand, cardboard, water, food, and other items that help in the event of an emergency. Be sure to have your roadside assistance company, such as AAA, saved in your phone contacts.
In addition to the normal safety items you would keep in your vehicle for emergencies it is also important to always have snow boots, gloves, a hat and a warm coat in your vehicle if you are driving in snowy conditions. You never know when you may need to use them.
Taking care of these 9 items is a sure fire way to set yourself up for success on the road.
Thank you for reading, drive safe!