What’s the one thing cars and the wildlings beyond Winterfell have in common when winter is coming? They need to be prepared. With winter already here, it’s time to get your car ready for the last season and its many wintry fiends. If your car has already endured its first snowfall, well, better late than never. Since the lowdown on how to prepare your car for winter is not a simple answer, we break it down into a number of digestible steps.
First Things First - Your Tire Game
Conventional car tires tire, particularly in the midst of a raging winter storm. Be sure to check your tires for wear and tear and consider replacing them if the tire’s tread is unsatisfactory. To find out if you need to fill up your car’s tires, check their air pressure and make sure they are filled up to the recommended PSI. The last thing you want is a deflated tire the morning after an angry windstorm, and the second last thing you want is a tire with tread closer to a puncture than the nearest gas station. How to prepare your car for winter if your tires are not up to the mark? Consider replacing them, or better yet, replacing them with snow tires just for the winter. Snow tires increase grip and friction when low temperatures and sleet hit, so it’s the safest choice of tires during winters.
Expect The Worst
As cheerless as winter is (barring Christmas and holidays), did you know that accidents spike up by 34% during the holiday season?
The answer to how to prepare your car for winter is guided by a simple principle - prepare for the worst weather conditions in your area. Even if the forecast says the rest of the month will only have four inches of snow, it’s best to equip yourself for a storm. This includes toolkits, extra tires, stocking up on warm things (blankets, jackets), making sure all your car’s devices are functioning, storage locations, an autocheck, and even a car wash.
Use a Toolkit
If I had to tell you how to prepare your car for winter in two words, I’d say winter toolkit. Not just any toolkit, though - it has to be complete with all of our favorites, which coincidentally, are a storm’s worst enemies. Include phone chargers, first-aid kits, blankets, shovels, flashlights, ice scrapers, jumper cables, and last but not least, a bag of sand (for tire friction). That’s right, practically everything unsuitable for a fanny pack. Not only will you be well-armed, but also the least likely to struggle with mud puddles, snow piles, wounds, and car thieves allergic to sand.
Safety Check 101
A list on how to prepare your car for winter would be incomplete without mentioning the need for a thorough safety check. This includes checking your headlights, signals, windshield wipers, liquids (Anti-freeze, gas, oil, cooling liquid), tires, and all the electric bells and whistles that sit on your car’s dashboard to make it honk, chirp, blink and indicate. Even the best-intended leisurely trip can end up a debacle if not supported by a well-maintained car that’s safe for the winter. Total safety is always better than a totaled car.
An auto check at a car mechanic helps fine-tunes your car and checks a number of things the untrained eye can’t, such as hoses, belts, the coolant-to-water ratio, and your air conditioner. Your air conditioner doubles up as a dehumidifier when it’s chilly, helping windows defrost and increase visibility during the worst of winter. Winter can occasionally do irreversible damage to some cars, and it’s best to get them checked at a certified car mechanic before the season arrives. However, for cars that are irreparable, there are multiple agencies in your locality that provide cash for junk cars, regardless of their condition.
Plan in Advance
Before going on a long road trip during the winter, remember to take all the precautions you can and keep an ear out for information on any media - be it the radio, TV, newspaper, or a friend - about upcoming adverse weather conditions. Remember to keep track of accidents, roadblocks, or routes that are precarious under stormy conditions. Consider leaving your GPS on and updating a family member or friend with your live location while you travel. This ensures that you are never stranded or unsupported in the incident of a storm or unprecedented weather conditions. As always, there’s a significant overlap between how to prepare your car for winter and your safety.
There’s no denying that multiple parts of your car take a hit along with the temperature during winter, but the worst affected, or that which has the most impact on your car’s performance, is your car battery. Battery capacity decreases drastically during the winter, so frequent inspections of the battery, cables, terminals, and fluids will help you take better control of its performance. Check the battery cables for any wear and tear and lose connections. Check the level of your battery’s voltage by turning off your car and checking its hydrometer. If everything seems copacetic, you’re nearly done on the know-how required on how to prepare your car for winter!
Regular maintenance is the largest ingredient in how to prepare your car for winter. Keeping up with your car’s needs is a daily job that demands extra shifts during winters. Depending on the make and model of your car, how you maintain your car on your own may vary. In case you have too many questions about getting your car ready for winter and need a professional’s assistance, you can always avail of the services of a local mechanic for a nominal price. In case your car is too old and maintenance during winters seems like a hassle, you can always dispose of it at reputed agencies that provide cash for clunkers.
Winter isn’t easy for any of us - be it humans, cars, or high-power outdoor Dance Dance Revolution machines that run on 16 separately sold batteries. The best we can do is take all the necessary precautions to weather the ride well, or in one particular case, a dance-off with your knee-high boots tucked into a parka. But that’s for another article altogether.