The roads are getting slick with snow and the temperature is dropping. You know your car should be checked before winter to make sure everything is working well, but what is really important? The five primary things that should be checked before winter driving are:
1. Battery– We sell a lot of car batteries during the winter because the colder weather makes marginal batteries more likely to stop working, usually during a cold spell when you really want it to work so you can get warm in your car. Most repair shops have a battery tester to determine if your battery needs replacement. Typically batteries need replacing every 4-6 years.
2. Coolant– Seems that each manufacturer has come up with their own special coolant in the last few years. Coolant life ranges from every 30,000 to 100,000 miles depending on the manufacturer recommendations. If the coolant does not work properly in the winter it may freeze and cause damage to the engine and/or cooling system. Using test strips coolant can be checked to make sure it is still effective.
3. Tires – If your tires are worn down to the wear bars or beyond, their ability to grip the road during wet or snowy conditions will be severely compromised. Do not put off buying new tires that could very well prevent you from getting in an accident that could cost you much more than the tires.
4. Windshield Wiper Blades– If your blades leave streaks and are not cleaning well when wiping the windshield, you will have reduced visibility. Combined with rain or snow, this can also lead to an unnecessary accident.
5. Windshield Washer Fluid – Make sure your windshield washer fluid is topped off since you can use a lot of fluid when road conditions are nasty. Also, make sure to use washer fluid that will not freeze.
Finally, it is a good idea to have a mechanic perform an overall inspection of your vehicle before winter starts just to make sure there are no obvious problems that should be addressed. Winter is my least favorite time of the year to be stranded on the side of the road!