Soon fall will end and we will be in the midst of winter. While lots of fun things come with winter, like snowmen and holidays, it can also wreak havoc on your car. With a little preparation, though, you can drive safely and without fear of breaking down, which will leave you free to sip on hot cocoa by the fire.
Here are the key components of your car to check before the snow starts to fall.
Cold weather causes the pressure in your tires to decrease at a rate of about one pound per ten degrees. So if it is 50 degrees now, but the temperature drops to 30 degrees tomorrow, the tire pressure in your car will drop about 2 pounds. If your car is an ’08 or newer, then it is required to have tire pressure sensors but older cars may not be equipped with this.
It is harder for the battery to start the engine in colder temperatures because the oil isn’t as fluid in cold temperature. Batteries also lose power in the colder temperatures, so you are requiring more power to start the engine from a battery that now has less power. If your battery is old or showed any signs of dying in warmer temperatures, it is best to replace it before it gets too cold.
Cooling system and antifreeze
The ideal mix of antifreeze for your car is 50% coolant and 50% water. Some people mistakenly think that the higher the ratio of coolant to water the better, but actually this is worse. A mix of 50-50 is better able to transfer heat away from the engine, and has a lower freezing point.
Winter windshield wipers
Windshield wipers that are made for winter weather are a good idea if you live in very cold or snowy areas. They have thick rubber that prevents ice from building up on the blade. It is also very important to turn off your windshield wipers so that they go back to the “off” position. If they are still up and you leave your car, they could freeze to the windshield. When the car is turned on, the motor will attempt to move the frozen wipers and this could cause damage either to the wiper or the motor.
In many states it is the law that all windows must be completely clear of snow or any other obstructions before you drive. Condensation will cause your front and back windshields to continue to fog up as you drive, though. This is why it is extremely important to have functioning front and rear defrosters.
Just in case you do break down or get stuck, it’s good to have some supplies in your car. Items to have on hand in your car during winter include:
- Ice scraper
- Bag of sand to help with traction
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- A blanket and extra winter clothes
- A car charger for your phone
With the holidays coming up, most people do not have time to break down. Take a little bit of time to prepare your car for winter so you don’t break down in cold and snowy conditions later. These tips can also save you money in the long run, as preventative maintenance is usually less costly than a repair. Safe driving!