While fall weather is colourful and still warm, it’s time to remember that with winter approaching, you need to get your car ready for driving in winter weather conditions. Cold weather and inclement weather, snow and ice accumulation and deicer on the roadway can create havoc for traffic. Your car’s operation can be adversely affected by these factors.
Here is a checklist to help you prepare for the most common problems and driving challenges. You’ll want to be able to drive comfortably and confidently through the winter season. Whether you’re driving in the city where the roads are often ploughed and maintained or if you are driving in the open country or driving in hilly or mountainous areas, you should be prepared for changing and hazardous road conditions.
Some of these items you can do yourself. Others may require a quick trip to your mechanic. Making sure your car is mechanically sound is crucial in the winter weather. Make sure you can see the road and other cars and they can see you.
Get it serviced!
First of all, have your car serviced before the winter season begins. This includes changing the oil to winter weight, checking all the fluid levels in your car, checking the condition of your antifreeze, checking your brakes and checking your battery. In addition, make sure you know where the reservoir for your windshield washer liquid is located so you can easily keep it full during the winter season.
Prepared for emergencies
Pack a basic emergency kit. Create one using a plastic bin to store emergency car supplies. Include a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, flares, candles and matches, extra antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid, a shovel, an ice scraper, and snow brush. Add a roll of paper towels for keeping your windows clear and clean.
While this sounds like a lot, these supplies can make the difference between a safe trip and serious problems. Keep this kit inside the car with you where it is easily accessible. With access to these supplies, you’ll be able to make sure you are able to monitor the conditions around you and see any hazards on the road and, at the same time, make sure that you are seen by other drivers.
Tire check & inspection
If you have snow tires, inspect them and have them properly installed. Check your spare tire and make sure it is inflated and ready for use. Here, make sure your jack and tools for changing a tire are ready to go and stored so they are accessible. Check the pressure and tread depth on all your tires, including the spare. If you carry a set of chains for use in winter, make sure that they are ready for use and are stored properly when not in use.
Don’t forget the lights
Check out your headlights, turn signals, emergency or hazard flashers, and brake lights to make sure they are all working properly. Replace any burned-out bulbs. Thoroughly cleaning the lenses and covers at the beginning of the winter driving season makes it easier to maintain them in bad weather. You need other cars on the road to be able to see you if you’re driving slowly, if you are turning or if you have had to pull over to the side of the road.
Keep a check on systems
Winter weather puts a strain on the mechanical systems in your car. Check your hoses and belts to make sure they are in proper operating condition and properly installed. You can do this at the same time you are checking the levels of your windshield washer solution and other fluids.
Adding jumper cables to your box of tools and supplies is a good idea. Cold weather can literally zap the life out of a battery and it’s best to be prepared in case you need to jump-start a car. Adding a warm pair of work gloves to your tool and supply box will come in handy if emergency repairs are needed.
Keep your gas tank at least half full. The extra weight of the gasoline in the tank will help you maneuver through the snow. If you do encounter traffic delays or if your car is stopped in the snow, you’ll be able to idle your engine periodically to keep warm if necessary. Check your exhaust system to make sure you are not leaking carbon monoxide into the car itself which can be dangerous.
Pack the extras
Lastly, pack a kit that has extra warm clothes and a blanket or two. Consider adding in a candle for emergency light, chemical hand or foot warmers that are sold primarily to winter sportsmen, and extra socks. Add some energy or candy bars and bottled water. These items can be important if you will be driving a substantial distance during a snowstorm.
Prepare your car and your safety kit for bad weather driving and possible delays. If you do that, you’ll be ready for whatever Mother Nature presents to you.