Winter Driving Checklist
It’s that time of year when we get less daylight and more frost on our car windows. It’s very important to drive safely during the winter, the last thing you want is to be stuck out in the cold after an accident. There are many great ways to prepare yourself and your vehicle for the winter months. The snow and ice isn’t your only obstacle in the winter months, the cold can do a lot of damage on its own. You’d rather be safe than sorry, so what you need to do is be prepared for the worst.
1) Check Your Tires
No matter what time of year it is, you should always be checking up on your vehicle and making sure everything from tire pressure to battery level is looking good. But it’s more important to check these during the wintertime because the cold is a major factor affecting these things. As you’re scraping that ice away in the morning before your commute you should look at your tires. If you can visibly see that one is low, this can have a chance of causing great damage to your vehicle and needs to be addressed. It’s highly recommended that you check the tire pressure of each tire before you drive your car, which is something most of us don’t do.
Another thing to check is the tire tread. As your car’s tires are used, the tread wears, limiting the effectiveness of your tire’s traction. An easy way to check this is with the penny trick. Take a penny and place Lincoln’s head into several tread grooves across the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head throughout, your treads are shallow and worn. If this is the case, your tires need to be replaced.
2) Take A Look At Your Battery
Another thing you should check, at least at the beginning of winter - if not monthly during the wintertime, is your car’s battery level. Lots of auto shop stores will check this for you for free. They will tell you how your battery is doing and if you might need a new one. The last thing you want in the winter is your car not starting, having to call for a friend to help, or, in the worst case, need a tow.
3) Don’t Skip Over The Wipers
Your windshield wipers should be checked every six months for cracks and wear. It’s very important to have good ones during the wintertime because you’ll need to use them the most during this time. If you don’t prop your wipers up during the winter to make sure ice doesn’t form around them, you should check them every time there is snow or frost on your vehicle. If you were to apply the wipers without checking if they are frozen to your windshield, you could risk damaging them. Even if you let your car warm up and do the hard work of removing the frost on your windshield, it’s always smart to check your wipers before driving off.
Secondly, you should check the level of your wiper fluid at the beginning of winter. To check it, open the hood of your car. It's usually a white, translucent container with a windshield/water symbol on the cap. If your wiper fluid is looking low, you should go to a nearby auto shop or even a gas station to buy more fluid for your car.
4) Change Your Oil
Your car’s oil is essential. It’s the lubrication for your car’s engine to run properly. Cold weather can thicken oil. This can disrupt the ability of the oil to circulate through the engine properly. If you haven’t changed your oil in a while, you could cause damage to your engine in the winter by waiting any longer. Experts recommend using a thinner oil during the winter months. The best thing for you to do is to consult your owner’s manual or a mechanic to see if that approach is right for your vehicle.
5) Keep These In Your Car
Extra Coat & Gloves: We often forget how quickly the weather can change. When you start your trip in your car, the weather could be fine for just a light jacket, but if you going for a long drive or not coming home until later, it could be freezing by the time you’re back. Gloves are another great thing to keep in your car. Especially if you have to scrape off ice from your window.
First Aid Kit: Life is unpredictable and we all know accidents happen, we just never know when or what they might be. A great thing to always keep in your car, no matter the season, is a small first aid kit.
Shovel and Sand: You might get stuck in a snowy situation. A great thing to have in this situation is a shovel or sand. You can use the shovel to move snow aside and hopefully be able to get some traction with the road. If that’s not working the sand comes into play. You can pour sand, or even kitty litter, around a tire that is not getting traction to help.
Make sure you’re prepared in the winter months. We hope you don’t have issues with your winter driving, but it’s always better to be prepared. Drive safe!