How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter - The S.E. Farris Law Firm
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How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Winter is tough on automobiles. Freezing temperatures, salt-covered roads, and slippery conditions all present their own threats to our cars. While there is no way to absolutely prevent these dangers from taking their toll on our vehicles, there are ways to mitigate the threats that winter driving presents.

Do a thorough inspection
Every system on your vehicle is important, but some are critical to safe operation.

  • Battery
    – Cold temperatures decrease the capacity of batteries. Cold engines take more power to start, and this double whammy can kill a battery in the winter. Have your battery checked at the beginning of the season to ensure it’s in good enough shape to get you through the cold winter months.
  • Antifreeze
    -The antifreeze in your vehicle keeps your engine cool in the summer, but it also keeps it from freezing in the winter. Antifreeze can break down over time, or leak. Have your radiator checked and cleaned as the manufacturer recommends and check your antifreeze level when cold temperatures start.
  • Tires
    – If your car has summer performance tires, these are NOT safe in temperatures near freezing and below. These tires are made to be extra “sticky” in warm weather, but the composition becomes like glass in the cold. Besides offering almost no traction in the cold, the tires can fail due to breakdown in the rubber compound.  In fact, driving these tires in extreme cold weather can invalidate the warranty. It’s recommended that you install snow tires or all weather tires on your car for the winter, but at the very least you should make sure that your current tires are in good condition. To test the tread on your tires, use the penny test. Place a penny upside down, facing you, in your tire tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tires are bald and need to be replaced.
  • Lights
    – If your car breaks down or gets stuck in the snow, someone seeing your lights can keep the car from getting hit, or you from being stuck inside and unnoticed. This includes headlights, high beams, rear lights, brake lights, hazards, turn signals, and interior lights.
  • Heater
    -A broken heater won’t leave you stranded by the side of the road, but it will make your commute far less comfortable. It can also be dangerous if you get stuck in the snow, stranded without heat. Have your heater checked so that you can drive in comfort throughout the winter.

Prepare your vehicle
There are extra steps that you can take to ensure that your car is prepared for winter threats:

  • Replace your window washing fluid with a winter blend. Window washing fluid comes in two types, one for summer that helps to repel rain and one for winter that helps defrost your frozen windshield. It’s a good idea to use the appropriate washer fluid since a summer blend can freeze in extreme temperatures.
  • Road salt can damage your automobile and its finish. Rinsing your vehicle off occasionally at a car wash will help to reduce the damage salt does to your car over time, and a full wash and a coat of wax can help to protect it and keep it looking new.
  • Make sure to keep your gas tank at least half full during the winter. Besides giving you a hedge against long idle times if traffic backs up, it will keep water from condensing in the tank, which can freeze and cause hard starts.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car. Your kit should include first aid supplies, flares, dry food that can be eaten cold, flashlight and batteries, a blanket, extra clothes, matches, and a battery powered cellphone charger. An ice scraper and small shovel are winter essentials. Cat litter is another good supply for emergency traction if you get stuck on an icy patch.
  • If your automobile has rear-wheel drive, two bags of sand in your trunk near the wheel wells will help maintain traction on slick roads. The added weight will give your tires more traction. If you get stuck in the snow, spreading the sand out will gain traction.

By preparing your automobile for winter, you greatly reduce the risk of getting into an accident, or being stranded due to an emergency. If you are involved in an accident, contact The S.E. Farris Law Firm for a free consultation and strategy session, call 314-252-9937, or visit