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Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter

Dec 26, 2007
Depending on where you live, getting your car ready for winter may be a matter of chaining up your tires or simply flicking on the heater. There are some basic tips in terms of preparing your vehicle for winter that can help in most conditions, however, and can ensure that you can avoid those slippery moments on the sleet, ice, snow, and slush of even the harshest of winters.

The first thing you'll need to do is be sure that your car has been serviced and has had its oil changed. It is always best to service your vehicle regularly. Have a full service done about every 30,000 miles or so, depending on manufacturer's specifications. The best way to determine this is to check your owner's manual for more information about oil changes and regular check-ups and servicing. As your car is being serviced, ensure that the coolant is flushed and the coolant is replaced with a product suitable for the environment in which you will be driving. Your car needs different coolant for winter than summer, of course.

Also replace the windshield wiper blades. Your wiper blades will be your best friend during those snowy nights on the road and you'll need to ensure that you can properly see the road. Windshield washer fluid should be fully topped up as well and should be up to manufacturer's specifications. Regular water can and will freeze, so avoid using water for wiper fluid.

The battery should be serviced. The posts and terminal ends should be checked by a professional and any water should be added if necessary. The battery should also be load-tested and its ability to hold a charge should be monitored. If the battery is more than four and a half years old, it is recommended to change it before the winter months strike.

Check your tire pressure. This will ensure that your tires have enough pressure to handle the road. Tires may become low as the temperature drops, as the air in your tires can contract due to the temperature. This is also a good time to ensure that you have a good set of all-season tires or winter tires with plenty of tread for the road. Also double check that your spare tire is, first and foremost, in the trunk and, second, filled with enough air. You should also have all of the proper tire-changing equipment in the trunk for effective servicing should you need to change your tire.

Check your lights, heater, and defroster for good, solid operation. Keep your gas tank as full as possible at all times so that you can give your vehicle more weight and so that you don't run the risk of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. This will also help prevent moisture from forming in the gas lines. Along with this, have your brakes checked by a professional.

Finally, make sure you pack an emergency kit for the cold weather. This should include a good pair of gloves, a warm jacket, a blanket, extra boots, an ice scraper, snow shovel, flashlight, and some kitty litter for getting out of slippery situations by providing traction. By using these tips, you should be able to survive the winter on the roads and enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.
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