Is Your Car Ready for Winter Travel?

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Depending on the region of the country you live in, preparing for winter can take on different meanings. If you live in a southern state, winter is a time when you may have to break out the long-sleeved shirts and jackets on a cold day. If you will be visiting family in areas that are prone to hard, cold and snowy winters, you should be aware of the impact on your vehicle. The following are some ways to prepare your car for dealing with winter weather.

Step One: Consult your owner’s manual.

Each vehicle has specific guidelines outlined by its manufacturer to ensure top performance is maintained. Identifying and taking these steps will put you well on your way to having a winter-ready vehicle.

Step Two: Take note of powertrain type of issues.

While most things will be covered in your owner’s manual, the following should be on your list:

  • Get all your air filters cleaned so that airflow is not restricted to critical engine parts.

  • Use engine oil designed for winter use.

  • Check to make sure your engine coolant is the proper type and in the proper coolant/water ratio.

  • Inspect your battery system for potential problems (e.g., cracks in the cables, corrosion in terminals, fluid and charge levels, etc.).

Step Three: Check out critical mechanical items.

The following are things to consider that are mechanical in nature:

  • Check to make sure your wiper system is working properly (e.g., wiper blades, fluid level and spraying, etc.).

  • Ensure your tire air pressure is at the proper level. Your tires may lose air pressure in colder weather.

  • Inspect the tread on your tires and install snow tires if needed.

  • Be sure your car heater and defroster are working properly.

In addition to these three steps, it is a good idea to have a game plan should you get trapped in winter weather while traveling. For example, keep an emergency kit in your car and develop a family emergency plan to know what to do if someone is stranded.

Taking these proactive steps to ensure you (and your car) are as well prepared as possible for the winter elements can save you time and money down the road.