CarsDiva’s Blog

An Auto Industry Insider’s View…From A Woman’s Perspective

Driving in a Winter Wonderland…

Posted by carsdiva on November 19, 2012

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner, and with that comes cold weather, and probably snow.  Sure, if you live in a place like Cali or the sunshine state, you probably don’t have to worry about this, but for those of us in the north, central or eastern parts of the country, it’s inevitable.  If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to winterize your car. Well, at least if you want to [try to] avoid the hassles that accompany driving during the winter season.

Thanks to a recent post by shopautoweek.com, along with a few of my own tips, here’s a list of items to check or perform on your vehicle before the heart of the cold season hits:

  1. Tires.  Check the tread depth of your tires.  Summer driving tends to wear out the tread depth quicker than winter, and the last thing you want is to feel like you’re on a slip and slide during a snow fall.  Furthermore, if your vehicle is equipped with low-profile tires, it’s time switch to either all-season or snow tires.  They provide more traction and can be the distinguishing factor as to whether you’re smooth sailing over the river and through the woods, or stuck fish-tailing.  Trust me, I can tell you from experience I’ve been there before and it’s a slippery slope— no pun intended.
  2. Wheel Alignment.  Most of you probably know what it feels like when your wheels are misaligned– you loosen your grip on the steering wheel and the car drifts left or right, or if it’s really bad, you find yourself struggling to keep your vehicle on its intended path.  Imagine this combined with slippery conditions— double-trouble.  Avoid the headache and get your wheels properly aligned.
  3. Fluids.  Time to check your fluid levels. If you drive an automatic transmission vehicle (like the vast majority of Americans), this is especially pertinent to you.  Cold weather is harsher on your transmission, and besides, it’s suggested that you change the fluid and filters every 30,000 miles for optimal performance and protection.  Also check your antifreeze, (aka coolant), which keeps the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temperatures.
  4. Wiper Blades.  No explanation necessary.  Check your blades, and if necessary, replace them.  They always seem to malfunction when it’s down-pouring, or worse, during a snowstorm.  It’s also a good idea to check your windshield washer fluid at this time.  As outside conditions worsen, and salt and dirty snow cover your windshield, you’ll need an abundance of fluid to keep it clean.  Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a frost-bitten face, as you hang your head out the window to see what’s ahead.
  5. Battery.  It’s one thing to jump your car in the summer, and another when the temperature is below zero. Be sure to keep cables in your car should the need arise, especially if you drive an older vehicle.  (Note: batteries lose power in the cold.)
  6. Service.  Do you have any “check” lights on that you’ve been procrastinating to investigate?  Get your car serviced immediately.  If you’re having car troubles now, you can be almost guaranteed that they’ll really surface with the drop in temperature.
  7. GAS. Keep your tank full (and no, I’m not talking about increasing your intake of beans, folks.)  Should you follow steps 1-6 and your car still breaks down, you’ll thank me.  If you’re stuck on the side of the road during inclement weather conditions, you’ll want to keep your car running for the heat.

A couple of additional reminders to add– keep a snow brush and ice scraper on hand, and your cell phone (in case of emergencies, of course.)  Though you can’t control the winter weather conditions, you can certainly do your best to prepare for them!

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One Response to “Driving in a Winter Wonderland…”

  1. […] the season for winterizing your car! I covered this topic last year, right about this time, but it’s always good to be reminded of what to do to prepare your car […]

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