As the temperature begins to drop during the winter months, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure your safety and the reliability of your vehicles. These essential maintenance tips help you stay on top of developing issues and prevent dangerous situations that can leave you stranded or cause an accident. Now is the time to check these items off your list so you can drive during the winter with confidence.
Check the Battery
Without a properly functioning battery, you’ll be stranded during the wintertime. When the temperature drops, the battery has reduced cranking ability. Consider that as temperatures drop to near zero degrees Fahrenheit, the battery only has around half of its cranking ability. The first step to keeping your battery working in cold weather is to check the fluid levels in traditional batteries.
If you notice that the levels are low, you’ll need to add more distilled water. Not all batteries need water, however. Some don’t need regular maintenance, but you’ll need to check to ensure it is charged at all times. Maintenance-free batteries have an indicator on the top that tells you if it is fully charged or needs attention. You’ll need to replace your battery after five years so you don’t experience unexpected issues.
Check and Change Oil
Your oil requires changing frequently, but you might need to change the formula you use in the winter, especially if you live in areas with extremely low temperatures. In the winter, your motor oil thickens, and it essentially makes it more difficult for the engine to crank. You’ll want to use an oil with a W viscosity index to remedy this problem.
An example of a winter viscosity would be 10W-30. Many people choose to keep this type of oil in their engines year-round to make it easier to manage. Don’t also forget to change the oil filter when you change your oil to prevent any issues from keeping oil flowing freely during the cold weather.
Purchase Winter Tires
Your tires are the foundation of your car and provide traction during cold weather conditions. When there is snow and ice on the ground, you’ll need a new winter tire to help you get the best traction and help prevent you from slipping and sliding off of the road or into other vehicles.
Winter tires have a thicker tread and particular pattern that grip the road and provide extra stability in slick or icy conditions. If you live in an area that doesn’t get snow or ice often, you might consider a new set of all-season tires that perform well in occasionally slick conditions but won’t need to be changed at the end of the season.
Get an OBD2 Scanner
An OBD2 scanner allows you to read engine codes and monitor your car’s health. You can read and clear DTCs and check engine lights. You can also use them to stay on top of your maintenance reminders and discover developing issues before they become expensive. These scanner tools are a sound investment to ensure your car works properly in the winter months.
Other functions include monitoring smog performance, key programming and ECU coding. They are relatively affordable, help you avoid costly service trips and monitor your car’s performance and functionality through the winter and all year round.
Upgrade Your Wiper Blades
Perhaps you’ve been using your wiper blades for the last year and didn’t think to change them recently. Or perhaps it hasn’t been a year yet, but you’ve chosen a more affordable budget option to save on costs. Whatever the case, you’ll want to ensure you replace your wiper blades with high-performance brand new blades.
Consider buying the better brands to get the best visibility while navigating in tricky winter conditions. If your wiper blades are over six months old, you need to replace them before cold weather sets in this year. It’s essential to see clearly while on the road in icy or snowy conditions. Most wiper blades are easy to install and only take a few minutes. If you get them replaced at your local service station, they can install them for you for free.
Check Your Heater
Perhaps it’s not yet time to crank up the heater, but you want to make sure it works before you need to use it. Consider turning it on a few times for a test run before you need to use it regularly. It’s hard to operate a vehicle safely if you’re freezing while trying to drive.
The more comfortable and relaxed you are, the better your driving skills. If you notice an unpleasant odor or smoke coming from your heater, you’ll want to have it serviced at your local heat and AC specialty company or a dealership. Pay close attention to any water or wet spot on the floorboard, an indicator or a heater core malfunction.
If you haven’t yet taken steps to winterize your car, now is the time to do so. You can help prevent issues that can develop due to cold temperatures and ensure you don’t get stranded. Keep in mind that these tips also address safety measures that keep you and other drivers safe while you’re on the road in the cold temperatures.