The last thing any driver, but especially a parent toting around a carful of kids, needs is to break down in the cold, harsh winter weather. Cold, wet and snowy weather conditions make your car work harder and in particular on the charging and starting systems, headlights, tires and windshield wipers. So it’s important to check your vehicle to make sure your car is in peak condition during frigid winter weather.
Don’t let the cold temperature wreak havoc on your car, here are 5 Things That You Need To Know About…Winter Car Care from the experts at the American Automobile Association, better known as the AAA:
1 – Keep the battery in good shape – Cold temperatures put stress on your car’s battery and charging system, particularly if you park your car outdoors. Have your car’s battery and charging system tested by a trained technician to avoid hearing nothing when you hit the ignition. If your battery is low, replace it. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.
Also, make sure that all the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion, and the connections are tight.
2 – Replace wiper blades – Wiper blades need to be replaced more often than you think. Blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Inspect your wiper blades monthly and replace blades if they are worn, cracked or rigid with age and leave streaks or miss spots.
Fill your windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that includes antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.
When snow or other freezing precipitation threaten, don’t forget to turn off the wipers whenever you park so that the next time you turn on your car, the wiper motor is not fighting to get frozen wipers moving. This can burn out the motor. Once parked, pop your wipers up, so they’re not touching the windshield. It will make it easier to scrape and remove ice and snow from your windshield.
3 – Maintain the engine – Check oil, brake, transmission, radiator coolant and power steering fluid levels. Be diligent about topping levels and changing the liquids at the recommended intervals. Always check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. The level of antifreeze protection can be checked with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store. Replace filters as needed.
While under the hood also inspect drive belts for any cracks or fraying. Don’t just look at the smooth top surface of the belt, but turn it over and check the grooved underside where most belt wear occurs.
4 – Tire Care – Spinning out in the snow isn’t the best way to discover your tires are worn out. Examine your tire’s tread for uneven wearing and cupping. If any tire has less than 3/32 –inches of tread, it should be replaced. Also, check the sidewalls for any cuts and nicks. Rotate tires as recommended.
Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before doing so. As the temperature drops, so will the pressure in the tires – typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Your proper tire pressure levels can either be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. And don’t forget to check the spare.
5 – Listen to your brakes – Do your breaks sound like their grinding? Chattering? Squeaking? Road salt and debris can build up on your brakes, causing them to bind and leading to uneven and premature wear. Have your brake system checked, including brake linings, rotors and drums. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.
Keep a Winter Roadside Emergency Kit in your car. Store it in a box or a Rubbermaid bin to keep items in one place and from littering your trunk.
Suggested Winter Roadside Emergency Kit items include:
- Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
- Snow shovel
- Snow brush
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Window washer solvent
- Ice scraper
- Cloth or roll of paper towels
- Jumper cables
- Gloves, hats and blankets
- Warning devices (flares or triangles)
- Drinking water
- Non-perishable snacks (i.e. granola bars)
- Extra clothes
- First-aid kit
- Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)
- Mobile phone car charger
Now it’s your turn to share. What’s your #1 tip to deal with winter weather?
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