It’s already November, and winters will be upon us before we even realize. Much like you go out to buy a nice warm jacket for yourself, your car needs a bit of extra love too during the cold season, if you want it to function properly. Driving in extremely cold conditions is one of the most treacherous things you can attempt, but there are ways to ensure you don’t get stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Just follow our top 5 tips on preparing your car for the winter, and you’ll be good to go.
Get winter tires
There is a stark difference between how summer and winter tires function on snow. Winter tires have a much deeper tread, and are made of a rubber compound that provides added traction in the colder weather. We highly recommend that you have a set of 4 winter tires on you, for whenever those first few flakes of snow fall.
If you’re looking to avoid the expense of buying an entirely new set of tires and make do with your current ones, make sure they have an adequate tread depth. This is usually 2/32”. You can check this by using the ‘Lincoln test’ — Place a penny in the rib of the tire’s tread, with Lincoln’s head facing downwards. If you can see all of the head, your tires need to be changed. Wrapping your current tires in chains is another way to salvage them for the winters.
Check your antifreeze levels
Adding antifreeze to your engine is the most important step you need to take before winter starts. Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the coolant in your engine, allowing it to stay in liquid form as the temperatures drop. You can pick up a very basic kit for checking the engine coolant levels in your car at almost every auto supply store. This kit will let you quickly determine if you have the right coolant mix.
Have an emergency kit ready
Even with all the care in the world, cars can and will break down in extreme weather conditions. To make sure you don’t find yourself stranded in such a situation without food or water, prepare an emergency kit that you can always keep in the trunk. This kit should include:
- A flashlight and extra batteries;
- A lighter and matches;
- A first aid kit;
- A warm blanket;
- A pair of warm, clean clothes;
- A battery operated radio;
- A charged portable power bank and extra charging cable;
- A sealed water bottle and high energy snacks;
- A small shovel.
It’s also recommended that you get spare tire inspected for any damage before the winter season begins. Always have a jack ready alongside the spare tire.
Change your wiper fluid and wipers
A new set of wipers comes fairly cheap, and is essential for winter driving. We recommend that you consider getting “winter wipers” installed, which are more rugged than the normal ones. As for the wiper fluid, either have antifreeze added to your existing one, or have it replaced by winter fluid. This is specially designed for the hardships of winter, and will even help get the ice off your windshield quicker, when you start your car in the morning.
Get a full inspection done
With temperatures in Michigan set to fall below 30°F, make sure you get a full inspection done by a professional before the winters start. This will include getting the car serviced, and having its battery and lights inspected. Remember: the colder it gets, the harder a battery has to work make sure a car can function at its fullest. In extreme conditions, an older battery could give up entirely, which is the last thing you want if you’re driving through a snowstorm.