As we head into winter, it’s time to make sure our homes and cars are ready. Even if you don’t drive your vehicle very often, it’s still important to make sure it’s in shape for the cold and snowy months ahead. Failing to do so might leave you stranded by the side of the road or with a car in the garage that has a dead battery and won’t start.
While most people know they need a good quality ice scraper and a pair of heavy gloves to keep in the car, there’s more to getting ready for winter. Here are 5 tips to help your winter preparedness efforts.
1. Schedule an oil change and checkup
While this might seem pretty basic, it’s easy to overlook having an oil change when you don’t log many miles on your car each year. Schedule an appointment at your local dealership or service center. Let them know you’d like the mechanic to change the oil and conduct a few other maintenance items, such as:
- Check and top off fluids, including anti-freeze, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid.
- Look at the wiper blades and replace, if needed.
- Check the air filter and change, if needed.
2. Inspect the tread and condition of tires
The snowy, slippery roads of winter make tires an important part of your vehicle’s safe operation. When you take your car in for its checkup, ask the mechanic to check the treads on the tires. They may recommend rotating or even replacing the tires.
You can also keep an eye on the treads throughout the winter with this simple test: Place a penny into several tire treads, making sure Lincoln’s head is upside down. If you can see most of Lincoln’s head, it’s a good bet the treads are worn and you probably need new tires.
3. Monitor tire pressure
Winter can cause tire pressure to fluctuate, so you’ll need to monitor it often. If your vehicle doesn’t automatically do this for you, invest in a good quality tire gauge. Store it in your glove box for easy access. It’s more convenient than trying to use one at the gas station when the weather is bad.
If you aren’t sure how much pressure your tires need (it’s different for every vehicle), look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. You can usually find it listed there. If not, check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website. These tips on checking tire pressure from the automotive experts at Edmund’s might be useful, too.
4. Invest in a lock de-icer
It’s no fun trying to unlock your car door, only to find it frozen shut. Pick up a few cans of de-icer to keep on hand. Just remember not to store them in your car! If the locks are frozen, you won’t be able to access them. Stash a can near the door to your garage, as well as another in your pocket or purse.
5. Put together an emergency bag
Winterizing your car should also include packing a winter weather bag in case you experience a roadside emergency. A few items to include in your emergency kit include:
- Water or sports drink
- Non-perishable snacks
- Flashlight and batteries
- Battery-powered emergency radio
- Battery-powered cell phone charger
One last suggestion is to explore local transportation programs and ride sharing services. If you aren’t comfortable driving on a cold winter’s day but need to get out to an appointment or for groceries,
knowing there are other options available is essential.
Looking for advice on how to winterize your home? Check out these 5 tips!