Fall may have just started, but winter is coming. Now that temperatures are dropping and the weather is getting cooler outside, it’s time to start thinking about how you can best prepare your car for the upcoming winter. Cars are more susceptible to damage and other maintenance issues in colder weather, so to avoid the stress, hassle, and big expenses of having to repair your car in the winter, or being stuck with a car that just won’t work, here are all the tips you need to keep your car safe and running in the winter.

Think ahead

  • As a driver, start thinking ahead and preparing yourself for driving in inclement weather like rain or snowstorms, or on roads where there’ll be ice.
  • If possible, park your car in a garage when not in use so that it’s not left out overnight or for long periods of time in really cold temperatures, as this can cause damage the engine and other vital mechanical pieces of your car
  • Always clear any glass surfaces like your windshield and headlights of any ice or snow before starting and operating your vehicle
  • Always allow yourself more time to arrive at your destination. Being late to work, school, or other important functions because there was ice on the road and lots of traffic is never a good thing.
  • Always have as much space as possible between you and other cars to prevent crashes or collisions from hydroplaning
  • And always make sure that those around you on the road are not hydroplaning as well, or are exerting as much care and caution in how they drive as you hopefully are doing
  • In the event that you are stuck in a pile up, always remain in your car and stay buckled up

Know your car

  • Read your owner’s manual to have a better sense of the type of car you have, its brand reputation and features regarding driving in inclement weather like rain and snow, and how suitable your car is for driving in inclement weather
  • Follow the brand manufacturer’s recommended service schedules for monthly or annual check-ups at your local mechanics’ shop

Take care of your car

  • Check your tires
    • Check the tread depth of your tires and, if necessary, replace your tires later in the fall so you have new and more durable or suitable ones for the winter. You can always reuse your old tires once spring arrives.
    • Double check the air pressure
    • And triple check that you have a spare set of tires and all the proper, necessary tire-changing tools on hand for possible road emergency situations

  • Check your cooling system
    • Check for any leaks
    • Double check to make sure that the fluids are clean and free of any contaminants
    • And triple check to make sure they do not meet the freezing or boiling points for those fluids

  • Check your windshield and lights
    • Check to make sure there is no ice or snow clouding your windshield and lights or obstructing your view and visibility in any way
    • Double check that your windshield wipers are clean
    • And triple check that your washer fluids are replaced with an ice melting formula

  • Check your battery
    • Check to make sure your battery is load checked so that it will not crank up in power during colder temperatures
    • Double check the battery’s terminal cable for any possible corrosion
    • And triple check that you have a spare or a charger in case of any possible road emergency situations

  • Check your car
    • Lastly, and as aforementioned, check up on your car brand manufacturer’s recommended service schedules
    • Double check to make sure that your car has your local mechanic’s seal of approval for winter preparedness
    • And triple check each morning before turning on your car that it is safe and ready for the cold day ahead

Always have on you…

  • A flashlight
  • A tow strap
  • A bag of sand or kitty litter
  • A shovel
  • Flares
  • An extra set of outerwear
  • Jumper cables
  • Water and non-perishable food items
  • Matches or a lighter
  • A good cell phone with good reception
  • And, of course, a full tank of gasoline

Worst case scenario…

  • In the event that you become stranded or find yourself in any other emergency road situation during the winter, always let someone know about the route you are taking and your estimated time of arrival before you depart for your destination.
  • If you make any changes to your route, always alert that someone about your change in travel plans
  • Stay with your car. Never leave it or stray too far away, even if you feel like you have to.
  • Clear your car of any snow, especially if it is a darker-colored car, and put something bright like a piece of cloth on the antennae to make yourself more visible to anyone who could potentially help you, such as passersby or any emergency response vehicles that you alert

Related article: Ohio Officials Ask Drivers to Help Make the Roads Safer this Winter.

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