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How To Prepare Your Car For Winter Weather

One of the worst feelings for a vehicle owner is waking up in single digit temperatures and running out to start your car; only to hear it strain and die when you turn the key. If you’re from the northern part of the country, and even many of the southern states, you know how hard winter weather can be on an automobile. Even if your car is brand new, winter weather can wreak havoc on its components. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure winter car care so you can be on the road instead of stranded beside it. Follow these steps to adequate winter car care.

1. Change your oil – Having oil in your car’s system that is past due for a change or of the wrong viscosity is a great way to get stranded. Make sure you change your oil when it is due and use the proper oil for the conditions. If your oil is too thick it will only get thicker as the temperature drops, making it difficult for it to move and lubricate your engine’s components. Check your owner’s manual to find out which type of oil you should be using.

2. Think Deep – Having bald tires will make driving on snow-covered and icy streets even more difficult than it already is. Make sure the tires on your vehicle have enough tread to grip the road on icy days, or you may want to even think of switching to snow tires for the winter months.

3. Check your tire pressure – Just as important as having enough tread on your tires is having proper inflation. As the temperature outside drops, so will the air pressure in your tires. In fact, your tires will drop about 1 psi for every ten degrees the temperature does. Make sure you read your owners manual or look on the inside of the driver’s door to find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle.

4. Check your battery – Remember earlier when was talking about your car not turning over? Most of the time this is caused by an old battery that cannot hold a charge when it gets too cold outside. Check your battery’s ability to hold a charge if it is more than a couple years old and make sure that the connections are clean and free of any corrosion as well as the cable for cracks and other signs of wear.

5. Get the right mix – One of the most overlooked aspects of a vehicles engine is the antifreeze. To help ensure your vehicle is running properly, you should have the correct antifreeze to water mixture at all times. A 50-50 mixture will be sufficient to prevent the fluid from freezing at any temperature. It is advisable to have a service station drain and dispose of your used antifreeze unless you have a place to properly dispose of it.

6. Check your belts and hoses – Winter weather is hard on all of your car’s components, but none more than the belts and hoses. As the temperature drops, old and worn belts and hoses will contract and crack, causing belts to snap and hoses to break. Avoid getting stranded by having your belts and hoses examined for wear and change any that are worn before the winter months.

7. Have an emergency road kit handy – Even if you winterize your vehicle as good as it can be, there is still a chance that you could become stranded while driving. It is vital that you carry supplies in your car that will help you stay warm, dry and hydrated until help arrives. Your emergency road kit should include:

• Blankets
• Extra clothes and shoes
• Gloves
• Flares
• Tool kit
• Jumper cables
• Paper towels
• Ice scraper
• First aid kit
• Water
• Sand or rock salt
• Extra wiper blades
• Washer fluid
• Spare tire and tire changing tools
• Tire gauge
• Flashlight
• Tire chains
• Food (high in carbs for energy and hard candy)
• Phone charger

By following these steps to prepare your car for winter, you will help avoid getting stranded and even more importantly be prepared in the unfortunate event that you are. Just as important as having the right supplies if you get stranded in the winter months is that you stay calm. You will need to conserve your energy so your body can use it to stay warm and your mind can think clearly. Getting anxious or angry will only use up precious energy that you may need later. Remember, if you get stranded that you should remain where you are and wait for help to arrive. Trying to walk to find help could put you in a worse situation then you were in originally.

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