Winter car preparation is the most important part of the winter season. Especially if you own a car, winter can be a very dangerous time of the year for those driving long distances. Even just driving around during the winter, there are many hazards that one can bump into. With December just creeping in, the holidays aren’t very far off. So, this is why taking the time to care for you and your car is important.
It may snow an awful lot depending on where you’re from and where you are. So, being prepared is one thing we would like you to be. Especially in the case of winter, there are a lot of accidents that can happen. More or less, there are cars that skid off the road. Sometimes, these cars aren’t discovered for days. Furthermore, there are also times when cars swerve down the road and create fatalities. So, to be able to stop this from happening, you’ve got to be very prepared.
So, what are the things you should do to prepare yourself and your car for the winter? This guide will help you with two things: winter car maintenance checklist and winter car needs (the things that need to be inside your car). Let’s start off with the winter car maintenance.
Winter car preparation list
You may have seen the severity of car crashes during the winter. If you haven’t, you can easily Google news about car crashes that happen during winter, then you’ll see why you don’t want to be at any end of it. Most of the people who get through the winter season of car crashes are the lucky ones. But playing with fate isn’t a fun thing. So, here are the things you need to check in your car to ensure great winter car preparation.
With the cold and damp weather amongst most of us in the United States, we’ve got to learn that this kind of weather kills the car’s battery. The worst thing to experience when going to work or dropping the kids off for the last few days of work or classes is difficulty turning the key in your ignition and listening to your car. Yes! This means that your car battery is either dead or dying. So, if you’re struggling to get your car started, it’s best to invest in a new one, or you can test the battery.
To check your battery, you’ll have to have the correct equipment. If you don’t, it’s best to call a specialist to check whether or not you’ll need a new one. There are numerous 24-hour running operations around cities that you can call up, and they’ll send you a specialist after a quote. However, if you could start your car but with difficulty, it’s best you drive to your local dealer or a car spare shop to grab a new one.
Although car batteries can vary in price, it can cost you between $60-$300. The latter may be a hefty amount during Christmas, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Or you could also call up local dealers and quote prices to get the best price possible. If you’re experienced with doing things yourself, it’ll cost you less than $100.
During the winter, you’ll also need to know how to jump-start a car. Either it could be someone at the side of the road or yourself. It’s best to have stock knowledge of this. Here’s a diagram on how to jumpstart a car from the Art of Manliness.
If you own a car in a place where it snows, you should know what antifreeze is. If you don’t, we’re glad you’re reading about it now because it’s important to have antifreeze. Antifreeze helps stop the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. In order for you to test its effectiveness, you’ll need an antifreeze tester. You can get this at your nearest mall or grocery, like Walmart or KMart. The average cost is about $7.
In order to use the antifreeze tester, you’ll need to unscrew the coolant reservoir cap. It’s located under the bonnet. Check if the engine is cold. Lower the tube into the coolant, then squeeze the rubber bulb to suck some antifreeze into the tester. By doing this, you’ll be able to read the freezing point of the antifreeze thanks to the scale of the tester. You can then replace the antifreeze if needed. Once you’re done, screw the cap back on.
During the winter, you’ll either have thick snow accumulate on your windshield and windows. This either means that you’ll be using your wipers or your hands. Plus, there’s a higher risk of spreading grime and whatever across the windshield. This could pose a risk as you won’t be able to see where you’re going. So, filling your washer with some screen wash or windshield washer fluid is best. You can buy ready mixed or concentrated washer fluids in most stores. It’s best to buy ones with a lower freezing temperature than water so you won’t end up with frozen washer jets.
A gallon of this fluid, on average, costs about $3-$40. And you can find this just about anywhere, especially during the winter season.
It’s the most simple part of checking your car. As the days get shorter and the weather can get terribly worse in your area during the winter months, it’s best to either get your exterior lights checked or replaced. You should allocate enough time to check and clean your lights regularly, as winter entails a quick build-up of salt and dirt. So, it can easily reduce visibility at night. Just in case, keep extra bulbs handy in your car.
If you’re going to drive frequently during the winter season, you might want to consider investing in a set of winter tires. They offer better grip on the road compared to other tires. This is especially helpful for places where temperatures can drop below seven degrees. They’re not cheap, to be honest, but it does bring additional safety. If you can’t afford or wouldn’t want to spend on tires for just one season, then you can check the tread depth of your tires.
The legal limit in the U.S. is 2/32 of an inch or about 1.6mm. But having more than that will severely improve steering, braking, and grip. Also, be reminded to check your tire pressure regularly. If possible, you can put in nitrogen instead of just regular air. This will help normalize or balance the heat and the cold, so you don’t have to check as often.
When in doubt, go to a professional
If you’re unsure what to do, it’s best to go to a professional to prepare your car for winter. You can have the expert do everything you need, but it’ll cost you some. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, there are places that offer free winter car checks.
Winter car needs list
Okay, once you’ve gone through the checklist of what things you need to check for your car, you will create an emergency kit to keep in your car at all times. This is especially for the winter months. In some states, the winter can get very extreme. So, if you ever find yourself stranded, you’ll be glad to have these things. The best thing to do is grab a big plastic container to fit all of these in the back of your car. Here’s a checklist of what should be in that container or box:
- A mobile phone and a charger
- Hazard warning triangles (at least two, one for the front and one for the back)
- A hi-visibility vest or even just a vest that has reflectors will do. You can DIY this.
- A first aid kit (a must!)
- De-icer and a scraper
- A small shovel
- Wellington boots
- A tow rope
- A thick blanket
- Warm clothes (at least two changes)
- Some easy-open canned food and drinks, preferably high-fat foods and drinking water
- A jumper cable
You should also invest in a decent set of car mats if possible. It’ll protect your car from wet and muddy feet. It can also help your car get out in case you get stuck in the snow. You can wedge the mats under the wheels to gain traction.
Now that you’ve gotten some of the top things to check in your car for winter car preparation, go stock up. Being careful during the winter season could save you and your lives as well. So, always be on the lookout for winter car preparation supplies before winter, and drive carefully!