When autumn comes around in Reno, leaves fall, nights get longer and there’s a definite nip in the air. Time to unpack the boots and gloves and fold some extra blankets onto the beds. It’s also time for Reno drivers to winterize their vehicles.
Here is some expert auto advice for Reno drivers on what vehicles need to keep everyone safe and rolling throughout the NV winter months.
1. Check your antifreeze. Top it off or change it if necessary. The last thing you want is your radiator, engine, or hoses freezing up. If your vehicle isn’t generating enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze might be low, or you might have a thermostat problem. Either way, you should get it checked out before the full force of Nevada winter sets in. If you are due for a cooling system service at Wayne’s Automotive Center in Sparks, get that done as well.
2. Check your brakes. Stopping distances increase in the slushy, wet conditions of winter. Ice exacerbates the problem. Your first concern, of course, is to make sure you adapt your driving habits to winter weather: slow down, and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Get your brakes checked at Wayne’s Automotive Center and replace any worn pads or other parts. Check your brake fluid. It can accumulate moisture and decrease your stopping power.
3. Test your battery. A battery’s cranking power drops in the cold, so if your battery is already weak, the onset of winter will do it in. The last thing you want is to be on a snowy Nevada road in the dark and cold with a dead battery.
4. Pack emergency supplies. Toss a blanket into the trunk. Your first concern will be to stay warm if you do find yourself stranded. If you’re traveling away from Nevada population centers, then pack some emergency food and water as well. Also, it’s a good idea to top off your tank in winter. That way, if you get stuck, you’ll have some fuel to burn to stay warm, and it’ll keep your gas lines from freezing up.
5. Check your wiper blades. They may be able to handle a light Reno summer rain shower, but they might not be up to the ice and snow that collect on a windshield in winter. If you experience particularly harsh winters or really wet ones, you can purchase special blades that resist freezing. And don’t forget to top off your wiper fluid.
6. Check your tires. Tires lose pressure over time, but they lose pressure fast when it’s cold outside in Reno. Tires lose about one pound of pressure every six to eight weeks; they also lose one pound of pressure for every 10°F/5.6°C drop in temperature. If the last time you checked your tires it was 80°F/26.7°C outside and it’s 40°F/4.4°C now, your tires could be down five pounds in pressure — and that’s serious. Low tire pressure is a safety issue and cuts down on your fuel economy.
7. Driving conditions in the Reno area may warrant special winter tires. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Wayne’s Automotive Center tire professional to get the right tires for your area and for your driving habits. If you are getting winter tires, it’s always best to get them for all four wheels. But if you’re only going to get two, put them on the rear wheels, even if you drive a front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. Traction is more important on the rear of a vehicle if you want to prevent sliding or fish-tailing on slick surfaces.
So there you have it: a quick checklist to winterize your car in Nevada. When it comes to car care, preventive maintenance is always the best practice for Reno drivers, especially when it comes to winter weather. None of us want to be caught out in the winter cold.