Winterizing your automobile is not only important for extending the life of your vehicle and avoiding costly repairs, but it can also help ensure that your car is ready for the changing driving conditions that occur during winter months. It is recommended, especially if you live in an area prone to frequent freezing conditions and snowfall, to have a reputable mechanic do an inspection of your car before winter is in full swing. During that inspection make sure the technician checks your brake system, tires, battery and charging system, antifreeze, and cooling system. There are also items you can check yourself to make sure your automobile is ready for this weather change.
Wipers: Install winter wipers that are better equipped to handle ice and snow and avoid ice accumulation. Do remove these when spring comes around, so you don’t burn out the motor, as they are heavier and are more taxing on the system.
Tires: Winter tires are a good idea if you live in a part of the country where freezing temperatures are frequent during winter months. Winter tires use special compounds engineered to resist hardening in cold temperatures, providing better traction on icy roads. If you live in an area prone to heavy snowfall, having a set of chains (and knowing how to use them) is recommended. Some areas even require drivers use them in these conditions, so make sure to find out if you will need to have them on hand.
Make sure you are maintaining the proper tire pressure for your vehicle by checking your tire pressure regularly. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations specific to your vehicle.
Fluids: Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is always nearly full, and consider keeping a spare container of the fluid in your trunk, as wiper fluid can be used up quickly when battling snow and ice on your windshield.
Keep your gas tank at a minimum half full at all times in the winter to avoid freezing gas lines, but also in case you are stranded in cold weather. Running your engine can keep you warm while you wait for help to arrive. Remember never to run a car engine inside a closed garage or other enclosed area.
Rear Window Defroster: Make sure this is in working order before freezing conditions occur.
Emergency Kit: Getting stuck in your car during freezing conditions can be life-threatening, so having a basic emergency kit in your vehicle during these months is essential. Items to put in your emergency kit include: flashlight and extra batteries, matches, non-perishable food, water, warm clothing and extra blankets, hand warmers, jumper cables, car tool kit, first aid kit, bag of sand and shovel, ice scrapers, flares, extra antifreeze, and a solar charger for a cell phone.
Recreational Vehicles: Boats, motorcycles, motor homes, etc. also need to be winterized to avoid costly repairs or dangerous conditions. Please consult your manufacturer’s guidelines for your particular vehicle, or take it to a reputable service provider to be winterized before use or storage for the season.