How to Prepare Your Car for Winter

As a Houstonian, I rarely experience harsh winters.

On the day I’m writing this post, the temperature is 75 degrees in November.

But I have had to deal with some freezing temperatures in the past, and I was unprepared.

During one freeze, a sheet of ice collected on my windshield.

To my dismay, I had no ice scraper and none of my efforts to remove the ice worked.

I eventually found an old Tic-Tac box in my car and used it to remove the ice. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Later that day, I drove straight to the auto parts store to buy myself an ice scraper.

I actually had to visit three auto parts stores because ice scrapers aren’t easy to find in southeast Texas.

As colder weather approaches, it’s a good idea to get your car prepped for the season.

Here are seven things to do to prepare your car for winter.

Prepare your car for winter

Inspect Your Tires

car tire

Tire pressure is affected by temperature.

It’s a good idea to check your tires when it starts getting colder.

Also, inspect the treads. Worn out tires can be dangerous on icy roads.

If you live in a harsh environment, you may want to invest in snow tires.

Check and/or Replace Shocks and Struts

Shocks and struts are susceptible to additional wear caused by environmental conditions.

Shocks and struts may not show any visible signs of wear, but internal components may be past their useful life.

This could affect vehicle control and handling, the ability to keep your tires in contact with the road, and vehicle stability; all-important driving characteristics to safely maneuver in wintery road conditions.

Check Your Antifreeze

As the name suggests, antifreeze prevents the coolant inside your engine from freezing under normal winter conditions.

If you haven’t changed your antifreeze in the past three years, it’s time to fully flush your system.

When replacing the antifreeze, use a 50/50 mix with water.

Water is the catalyst that makes antifreeze work.  

Another benefit of antifreeze is that it helps to prevent engine rust and corrosion.

Stock Your Car with Emergency Supplies

Make sure you keep your car stocked with adequate emergency supplies.

These will come in handy if your car breaks down on a cold winter night.

Typical items include jumper cables, an ice scraper, a gas can, 1 quart of oil, a toolkit, a first-aid kit, bottled water, tire repair tools and a spare tire, a fire extinguisher, a portable phone charger, and a flashlight.

If you have room in your trunk, you should also consider carrying a bag of sand to help with traction on icy roads.

Replace Your Windshield Wipers

You really don’t think about your windshield wipers until you need them.

Winter brings rain, sleet, and snow and good windshield wipers help you see clearly.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a new set. They are inexpensive and easy to replace.

Inventory Your Trunk

If you’re like me, you carry a lot of unnecessary stuff in your trunk.

This extra weight can affect your driving performance, especially on icy roads.

Do a quick inventory of your trunk and remove all non-essential items.

Test Your HVAC System

The term HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

The heating part of the system will be the most critical during the winter months.

Test your heater to make sure it’s functioning properly. You don’t want to discover your heater is broken when it’s 30 degrees outside.

If you don’t have the skills to do all of these things to prepare your car for winter, find yourself a trusted, reliable mechanic and ask him or her to do a complete inspection of your vehicle before you encounter severe winter weather.

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