6 Steps to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter
Last year's winter was certainly a doozy, and The Farmer's Almanac predicts much of the U.S. will see equally harsh weather in the months ahead. Just as you might prepare your home to withstand the ice and snow, it's prudent to insure your cars are prepared to handle the abrupt change of seasons.
1. For starters, it's a good idea to have each vehicle in the family fleet checked out by a technician, especially if it's suffering mechanical issues including hard starts, rough idling, stalling and sluggish acceleration. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Also, be sure to have dirty air, fuel and oil filters replaced, change the oil and have the brakes checked.
2. Have the cooling system flushed and refilled with a fresh 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to ensure proper cold weather engine protection. Check the heater and defroster to ensure they're in good working condition.
3. Check the engine and transmission oil, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid levels, topping each off as necessary. It's a good idea to have the oil changed before the temperatures plummet for extra protection.
4. Be sure to have your car's battery checked by a technician to ensure it will last the winter with its full cranking power intact. At the least, make sure the battery contacts are clean and free from corrosion; if you see a white powder at the contacts, clean them off with a wire brush. If the battery is several years old, buying a new one before winter sets in will be cheap insurance against a breakdown later in the season.
5. Ensure your car's tires are properly inflated to the air pressure recommended by the automaker (you'll find this information in the vehicle's owners' manual and on a sticker in the door jamb). Be sure to examine the tread for excessive wear before embarking. The traditional way to accomplish this is to insert a penny into the tread, and if you can see the top of Lincoln's head (or see horizontal treadwear warning bands running across the tread) it's time to replace the tire. If your car is equipped with so-called "summer" performance tires, have them swapped out for a set of all-season tires. Those with rear-drive cars should consider switching to a set of deep-tread snow tires for maximum traction.
6. Finally, change the windshield wipers so they'll be fresh and up to the task of maximizing your outward visibility, using rubber-clad winter blades to combat icy buildups. Ensure there's at least one full jug of antifreeze windshield wiper solvent in the trunk – it goes more quickly than many motorists anticipate in winter months – and be sure to carry a good-quality ice scraper.
"Both you and your car need to be prepared to take on the hazards and challenges of winter driving," says Dean Pisciotta, president of Brakes Plus, the family-owned and operated car maintenance and repair chain. "Have your vehicle thoroughly checked out and make any repairs before hitting the highways."
Take advantage of the Brake Plus October Specials to help get your vehicle in shape this fall:
$24.99 wiper blades, installed, with a portion of the proceeds from each sale donated by AutoTex Pink to the National Breast Cancer Foundation
$25 off any brake service
$24.99 oil change and filter
Buy-two-get-two-free shocks and struts
$25 off engine scan/diagnostic
Brakes Plus, with 67 locations in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, makes it easy for customers to get great car service. The growing chain offers customers free shuttle service and free wireless Internet, in addition to impeccable service and affordable prices.