Winter is fast approaching and with it comes slippery roads, decreased visibility and hidden dangers. It makes sense to prepare your car for cold weather and icy roads by following these simple tips.
Address Performance Issues
If your car stalls, has less power than it should, or coughs and chugs down the road in mild weather, you’re asking for trouble when the frigid Rhode Island winter sets in. Cold weather brings out the worst in a vehicle and no one wants to find themselves stranded on the side of the road, especially in the winter.
Take your vehicle into a reliable garage and get performance issues attended to now. These problems may have simple solutions or they may be the sign of a greater problem you can’t afford to ignore.
Your vehicle needs clean filters to operate properly. If the engine does not receive ample air or fuel, the engine will run poorly and you’ll burn more gas. Newer vehicles also have a PCV valve that moves combustion fumes from the crankcase to the intake manifold to burn them. If the valve does not function properly, it can pressurize the crankcase and cause oil leaks.
According to an ASE Master Auto Technicians poll, regular filter changes are frequently neglected, yet essential to engine health.
Check Coolant Levels
When you live in an area with extreme winter weather, it’s important to pay attention to your vehicle’s coolant system and the clamps, hoses, and belts that run things. Scheduled coolant flushes and a high quality antifreeze can ensure things run smoothly, no matter the weather.
Check Wiper Blades & Buy Fluid
Your windshield can get very dirty in the winter, so check the condition of your windshield wipers and replace them, if necessary. Store a container of washer fluid in the trunk as well as an ice scraper for those frosty days.
Maintain & Test Battery
Check your manual for instructions on how to maintain your battery. You may not be able to remove the cables to remove corrosion on newer vehicles, because it affects the computerized systems. However, you can check for tight connections.
If your vehicle’s battery is over four years old, get it tested. A battery professional has specialized equipment that can tell you if the battery’s charge is too weak to reliably start your vehicle on those cold winter mornings.
Dark winter months mean you and other drivers rely on your vehicle lights for visibility. Clean the lenses with a clean, dry rag and replace burned out bulbs promptly. Also carry an emergency kit with flares and a flashlight in case you find yourself stranded in the dark. You may also want to carry jumper cables, water, snacks and a blanket for additional security.
Examine Tires & Service Brakes
Check the condition of your tires, including your spare, before you face slippery roads. Also make sure that your jack is easily accessible and that your tires are properly inflated. Poorly-inflated tires affect fuel consumption and performance.
If your tires seem to be in relatively good shape, rotate them and get them balanced to improve performance and prolong their useful life. Don’t neglect your brakes either. The last thing you want to deal with during winter weather is a vehicle you cannot stop when you need to.