From a mechanical aspect, winter conditions – wet, cold and icy weather – present the greatest challenge to your vehicle’s operating efficiency. Since these conditions cannot be avoided, prepare for winter by performing a complete vehicle checkup in the fall. Check, or have your mechanic check, the following items:
- Brake System – Have your breaks checked regularly and do not delay any necessary maintenance or repairs.
- Tires – Make certain your tires are properly inflated and in good condition. While it is best to purchase tires in sets of four, if you only purchase two, mount them on the rear wheels.
- Exhaust System – Have a mechanic check your exhaust system for leaks in order to minimize the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your car is stuck in the snow and you have the engine running, open a window slightly and clear snow away from the exhaust pipe.
- Heating & Cooling System – Make sure your vehicle’s cooling system contains enough antifreeze to prevent freezing in cold weather. Keep the mixture fresh by changing it regularly and having the entire system checked for leaks.
- Windshield Wipers, Washer, Glass & Vehicle Exterior – Clean windows offer optimal visibility. An antifreeze washer solvent should be used in the water reservoir bottle.
- Electrical System –
a. Battery – Have your alternator or generator, voltage regulator and drive belts checked also.
b. Ignition System – Damaged ignition wires, a cracked distributor cap or worn spark plugs can make starting difficult or may cause a sudden vehicle breakdown.
c. Lights – Make sure all your lights and lenses are clean and functioning properly. Grime on headlight lenses reduces their effectiveness by as much as 90%.
It is also recommended that you have a winter driving kit in your vehicle. The following items will be invaluable should an emergency develop:
- Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter)
- Small snow shovel, snow brush and ice scraper
- Traction mats
- Flashlight & extra batteries
- Window-washing solvent;cloth or paper towels
- Booster cables; warning flares or triangles
- Gloves or mittens and blanket
- Cell phone