• Staff

Prepare your vehicle for winter

Despite the fact that winter continues to come at the end of every year, its easy to overlook preparing for it. The cold weather brings dangerous road conditions and reduced visibility. Here are some things to check up on now --- before you find yourself in immediate need in the dead of winter.

1. Test your heat.

Just make sure its working. Test your seat warmers, too. If you haven’t used the heat for several months, there’s a chance something might have gone wrong. You’ll need your heat to defrost your windows, and to be comfortable driving in the middle of winter.

Crank it up to max and make sure its putting out the right amount; even a small drop in the coolant level in your radiator can make the heat blow lukewarm or cold.

2. Check the quality of your antifreeze.

Your antifreeze will eventually expire. When that happens, it can lose its antifreeze properties. Your coolant ought to be changed at regular intervals, anyways. For more on radiator and cooling system maintenance, see here.

3. Check the tread on your tires.

You’ll need adequate tread to navigate wet and potentially icy roads this winter. A common technique for checking tire tread is to insert a quarter, upside down, into your tread. If the top of Mr. Washington’s bald dome is showing, your tread is too low.

4. Make sure you have freeze resistant windshield wiper fluid in your reservoir.

If it freezes, you won’t be able to use it. While you’re at it, you could get some that has Rain-X or a similar product in it, to imbue your windshield with the rain-repellent properties every time you use your windshield washer.

5. Inspect your wiper blades and/or apply a coat of Rain-X.

If your wipers smear water across your windshield, rather than wicking it, you could be in trouble.

6. Check all your lights to make sure they’re working.

You need to be able to see where you’re going, and other drivers need to be able to see you. While you’re at it, you can clean your headlights to help them cast more light. If the lenses are discolored, dull or foggy, you can pick up a cleaning kit at your local parts store that will make them crystal clear again.

7. Finally, make sure you have an emergency kit in your car.

Be prepared for situations like sliding off an icy road and getting stuck in a ditch in 15 degree weather with kids in the car. Stash some items like blankets, flashlights and food.

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