If you haven’t noticed already, Mother Nature has made her winter appearance a little earlier than usual this year on some Northeastern states, including upstate New York! With snow and icy conditions just a forecast away, now is the time to prep your car for the forthcoming winter season. We all know that driving in such conditions can make it harder to control our vehicles and if your car isn’t ready for it, it could be downright dangerous. With that said, check out some of our winter car care tips and suggestions so you can be ready for the worst of winter.
Packing The Essentials
One of the first things you should do to winterize your vehicle is to make a roadside emergency kit. Make room in your trunk or backseat for the following items:
- Jumper cables, portable air pump, flares, flashlight
- Deicer windshield fluid, ice/snow scraper tool, spray bottle with 2/3 vinegar & 1/3 water
- Shovel, sand/salt/cat litter
- First aid kit, blanket, extra warm clothing, gloves, hat
First, the shovel and ice/snow scrapers are obvious essentials you’ll need to have in your vehicle at all times because you never know when a snowstorm could hit. You may be out at the store and suddenly, your car is snowed in! Having these items can help you in a pinch and when your vehicle needs extra traction, the sand, salt or cat litter can give your car the footing it needs to move. Next, the vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle can instantly melt ice on the windows as well as unfreeze door handles and doorjambs. While you certainly can pick up deicer sprays from the auto store, this alternative is much more cost effective. All the other emergency essentials serve understandable benefits and should make their way into your roadside kit.
Replacing Old Components
When a vehicle begins to age, certain components begin to fail or malfunction and when they are subjected to winter weather conditions, it can make it that much harder for them to work properly. With that in mind, you should consider replacing these vital components to ensure they will properly perform when the temperatures drop:
- Air filter
- Spark plugs
Cold temperatures can make it extremely difficult for your vehicle to start and three of the biggest components that help that process are the battery, alternator and the spark plugs. This is why it is important to ensure these components are in good shape! On top of that, your air filter should be replaced regularly, as a dirty filter can clog the engine airflow and result in poor fuel economy. Additionally, the more tread you have on your tires, the more handling you will have on the roads. Complement that with good brake pads and you can ensure safer driving capability. While replacing these components can be costly, you can save money by opting for used auto parts that have warranties, which can give you better performance and peace-of-mind.
For added control on the road, you could consider snow tires or snow chains. Snow tires have increased tread depth and special tread designs for enhanced control. Snow chains can be installed over your existing tires and provides them with additional traction when conditions get too slippery. Also, be sure your wiper blades can clear the windshield in one passing and if not, replace them. Last but not least, always drive extremely careful when conditions turn for the worse:
- Leave plenty of space in front of you from other vehicles
- Always look and steer where you want to go
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly
- Don’t apply extra gas going up hills, it can result in too much wheel spin and a loss of control
With these tips, you can prepare your car and yourself for winter driving that’ll keep everyone on the roads safe!