Is your car up to driving this winter? Cold temperatures, poor visibility, and adverse weather conditions often make driving uncomfortable, not to mention dangerous. Every year, 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes in the US occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, and 15% happen during snowfall or sleet, research from Safe Winter Roads reveals. It’s therefore important you take the right steps to prepare your car so it can handle the challenges of winter. Here’s how you can ensure your car keeps running efficiently and keep you and your family safe.
Get your car serviced
It’s important to assess the condition of the vehicle before you hit the road this winter. So, book it in for a service. Some garages even offer free or discounted prices for car checks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 2% of car crashes were the fault of vehicle failure or degradation which could have been prevented with regular maintenance. Cold weather also affects the battery, so get that tested, too. A battery has roughly half its usual cranking power at zero degrees Fahrenheit. It may either need charging or replacement.
Check your tires
Good tires are essential for safe steering and breaking which is especially important in winter weather. Check your tire pressure with a simple gauge according to the manual’s instructions. Fill them at the gas station if they need air. Proper air pressure results in better gas mileage, which at $3 per gallon could save you $432 per year. You can also check your tire tread with the Lincoln test. Place a penny headfirst into your tire’s tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires are worn and need replacing. Good tire tread is essential for lowering your stopping distances, so you can better make emergency breaks if necessary.
Change your oil
Once winter rolls around, consider changing your oil to one with a lower cold weather viscosity grade. It’s better to have thinner oil in your engine at this time of year; thick oil will prevent your engine from starting. You can identify the viscosity of your oil by checking the first number in its specification. Choose one with a lower number. For example, if you usually get a 10W-30 oil, switch to a thinner 5W-30 oil. Not changing your oil regularly can reduce friction and wear down your engine, resulting in engine failure. An oil change costs roughly $30 – $50 (about $120 – $200 per year), while an entire engine replacement averages $2,000 – $5,000.
Finally, it’s also a good idea to keep winter emergency items in your car in case of a breakdown. A first-aid kit, flashlight, blankets, gloves road flares, and charged cell phone will be handy in times of emergency. By implementing these maintenance tips, your car will be ready for the road this winter.