If you live in a place where winter hits hard, you know there’s always much to be done to get yourself prepared for when the snow flies and the temperatures fall. This includes, of course, making sure that your car is all geared up to get you and your family safely through all the harsh weather that’s on the way. Whether you do your own car maintenance, or you prefer to go to an auto repair shop, here are some of the most important things you can do to winterize your car:
1. Change the oil. When temperatures drop below certain levels, the viscosity of your oil becomes a factor, and the needs of your engine change. Lower temperatures usually call for lighter-weight motor oils, but check your car’s owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
2. Vision is key. Make sure that your windshield wipers are in good shape and ready to get you through a few months of cold, wet weather. Also, check and fill your wiper fluid often, and make sure that your front and rear defrosters are working as they should. Last but not least, check to ensure that your headlights are working properly, as you’ll be driving in the dark more than you do the rest of the year.
3. Check hoses and belts. Temperature variation is a major factor in the overall wear and tear of these rubber components, so make sure that they are in good shape. Replace hoses if they’re cracked, and serpentine belts (found on cars manufactured since the mid-1980s) if they have too many cracks (which appear over time) or the gaps that are there are too far apart. This checklist item is usually best left to the experts at your local auto repair shop; the good news is that while you’re having this checked out, your mechanic can see to your other winterization basics as well.
4. Get the right tires. Depending on the amount of snowfall you tend to experience in your region, snow tires can be anything from a good idea to an absolute necessity. Some of the newer types have been shown to have better traction than even cleated or studded tires, and won’t damage the pavement when the roads are clear and dry. Chains are also a good idea, and you will want to practice putting them on.
5. Even with the best of preparation, things can go wrong and you can get stranded in dangerously cold conditions. Make sure you have an emergency kit that includes:
A blanket or sleeping bag
Heavy gloves and snow boots
Extra winter clothes
Water and energy bars
Car charger for your cell phone
Spare tire and tire-changing kit
Doing all of these things may seem like a lot of hassle, but it’s worth the time and energy they take to ensure you and your family travel safely through the cold, wet winter ahead.
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If you need auto repair service in Denver Author Stephen Daniels recommends the mechanics at Sixth Avenue Auto. They specialize in working on Audis and Volkswagens, but also service domestic cars. All work at this trustworthy neighborhood shop is performed by ASE-certified technicians.