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Prepare Your Car For Winter

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Winter driving isn’t fun. Cold, slippery conditions can be dangerous and the salted roads turn your once shiny car into a dingy gray color. But where I live, these conditions are a fact of life. The best thing you can do id prepare yourself and your car for the winter. With winter on its way, there are several things you should do to your car to maintain its safety and efficiency.

How to winterize your car

Fluids. Make sure your fluid levels are topped off and that you have the proper anti-freeze and windshield washer fluid for cold temperatures. The heavy duty windshield washer fluid that you use in the summer to cut through the dead bugs may freeze in the winter. Make sure you buy the stuff rated for freezing temperatures.

Battery. Batteries are often affected by the cold and if your battery is getting old, there is the chance of getting stranded. Many parts stores will do a free battery check.

Tires. Tire safety is extremely important in wet, snowy, or icy conditions. Make sure your tires have good tread and are properly inflated (check the inside of the driver’s door or your owner’s manual for your recommended tire pressure). Both of these will help your tires maintain more traction with the road. Also keep your wheels in alignment which will help with steering and traction.

Clean and wax. If you live in an area where roads are salted in the winter, it is a good idea to clean and wax your car before it gets too cold. This will help protect your paint job and make it much easier to clean your car in the spring. You may also want to rinse your car, top and bottom, a couple times in the winter if the weather permits.

Check engine light. If you have a check engine light or other warning light, get it checked before the cold weather sets in. This can help you prevent major repairs by catching a small problem before it becomes a big problem. There are many places where you can get your check engine light checked for free.

Add weight. If you have a small pickup truck, you may find it helpful to place a couple backs of sand in the bed of your truck. This will help your rear tires maintain traction in slippery conditions. This may decrease fuel efficiency though, so be sure to remove the bags in the spring.

Have an emergency kit. You will want to keep cones, flares, a spare tire and tire jack, a first aid kit, and some warm clothes or a blanket in case you get stranded.

Winter driving is dangerous enough without adding additional safety hazards. Doing a few little things on your end can help your car perform better and improve driver and passenger safety during the winter months.


Published or updated November 25, 2008.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craig

Good advice. I hate dealing with the car in the winter time with cold and snow. Especially starting my car in the morning. Probably one of the most annoying things to do. But it is better to be proactive about dealing with your car than waiting for something to do wrong with it.

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2 MoneyGrubbingLawyer

Great tips, but I’d add one huge addition to the Tires section- if you live in a northern climate, you need snow tires, not just all seasons.

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3 Jarhead

Really glad I don’t have to deal with this out here in Southern California heck I will be wearing shorts and a T-shirt on Thanksgiving. Never would have thought about the wax job makes sense. Good tips

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4 Curious Cat Investing Blog

I like the plan of moving to somewhere where winter driving is no different than summer driving (like Jarhead has).

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