Winter Safety Checklist: See Our January Tips
A comprehensive winter inspection ensures that all aspects of your vehicle are in top condition for the winter season, helping you avoid accidents, breakdowns, and costly issues later on. Taking these precautions ensures your vehicle is prepared to handle the challenges of winter driving effectively.
Winter’s harsh weather can bring challenging driving conditions with rain, ice, sleet and snow covering roads and highways. Your tires are the only point of contact between your vehicle and the road.
In winter, when road conditions can be unpredictable, having good tires in optimal condition is a non-negotiable. They are your best protection against accidents, making it easier to navigate safely, brake effectively, and maintain stability on the road.
Regularly checking the battery, ensuring proper antifreeze levels and confirming the functionality of heating systems are all crucial components of January car care:
- Battery Inspection: Avoid the nightmare of a dead battery during a winter storm by checking its voltage. Cold temperatures demand more power to start your car, and winter conditions can accelerate the decline of a weakening battery. Replace batteries older than three years and assess the charging system alongside routine checks.
- Coolant and Antifreeze Levels: Monitor your vehicle's coolant or antifreeze levels, a critical aspect of winter maintenance. Cold weather can cause fluids to thicken, potentially affecting your vehicle's performance. Adhering to your car's maintenance schedule, flush and refill the coolant system. If neglected, consider this as an opportune time for a flush and refill.
- Oil Check: Prioritize checking your oil, even if not due for a change. Since oil is a fluid, its examination is vital in winter. In harsh winter climates, contemplate switching to synthetic oil for better resilience to colder temperatures and improved fuel efficiency. Importantly, once changed, stick with synthetic oil, as switching back and forth is not recommended.
- Wiper Blade Maintenance: Ensure your wiper blades are in top condition for optimal visibility during winter driving. Snow, sleet, mud, and dirt can obstruct your windshield, posing potential hazards. Wiper blades typically last about a year, but you can assess their functionality by using them. Pop up your wipers before a snow or ice storm and turn them off when parking to preserve the wiper motor's life.
- Winter Maintenance Inspection: Prioritize your vehicle's routine maintenance by scheduling a winter maintenance inspection with a local car care professional.
Additional winter car care tips for January
Before you head out, check these four things to ensure proper tire safety for winter travels.
- Tread Depth: The condition of your tires is paramount in winter. Proper tread depth is the first line of defense against treacherous winter roads. Good tire tread ensures traction on slippery surfaces, allowing your vehicle to come to a stop safely.
Considered so vital that some states, like Colorado, mandate specific adherence to traction laws stating that either a 4WD or AWD vehicle must have a minimum tread depth of 3/16." Measure the tread depth regularly, and if it falls below recommended levels, it's time for new tires.
- Tire Pressure: Tire pressure is not just a summer concern. Cold temperatures cause tire pressure to drop, causing a 1-2 PSI change for every 10°F shift. Properly inflated tires are crucial for maintaining control and stability on winter roads. Regularly check and adjust tire pressure as needed.
- Winter Tires: For those residing in areas with heavy snowfall, investing in winter tires is a game-changer. These specialized tires are designed to provide better traction, handling, and braking in cold, snowy, or icy conditions. They can make a significant difference in your car's performance and safety during winter.
- Spare Tire: While most focus on the four main tires, the spare tire should not be overlooked. Ensure that it is in good condition, properly inflated and has adequate tread. A well-maintained spare can be a lifesaver in emergency situations.