900 people die and 76,000 people are injured in auto accidents during snowfall or sleet annually. Driving on snowy or icy roads is never comfortable, no matter how experienced you are. Some comfort can come from doing everything you can to winterize your car.
Your car is under a lot of stress during freezing temperatures. If you’re not keeping it maintained, costly repairs will be in order. By doing a few maintenance checks and buying a few supplies, you can make this winter a safer experience.
Follow our guide on how you can prepare your car for the winter.
1. Car Battery
Batteries take a nose-dive in capacity and reliability in the winter. You could lose up to 50 percent battery power during cold temps. The last thing you want to do is drive around an aging battery in the winter.
Have your battery tested before temperatures drop. If everything checks out and you have an older battery, make sure you have jumper cables to avoid surprises. Watch for signs of corrosion by keeping those posts clean with some baking soda and vinegar.
2. Winter Oil Change
A lot of people like to drive a little past their limit on recommended oil changes. This cannot be the case during the winter. Oil changes in viscosity as temperatures drop, making it harder to properly coat surfaces.
When you have thick oil running through your car, the engine runs harder, which could lead to irreparable damage. At the very least, your fuel mileage will take a big hit. Get your oil changed and car serviced if you’re at or near your mileage limit.
The type of oil you use will also play a role in how hard your engine is working in the winter. Look at the types of motor oils recommended for your climate and season.
3. Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is important in the winter. The weaker your tire pressure, the lower the traction you’ll have on icy roads. As the temperature drops, so does your tire pressure. Keep an eye on it as winter approaches.
You can lose up to a pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit below room temperature.
4. Buy Sandbags
You might be thinking “why do I need sandbags for snow?” These aren’t just used to keep water at bay, sandbags will help you if you drive a rear-wheel drive vehicle. The idea is to distribute more weight over the tires to give them more traction.
This can help reduce the amount of over-steering in slick conditions. Sandbags also come in handy if you’re stuck in snow or melt somewhere. You can make a path with the sand and get enough traction to climb out.
5. Wiper Blades
Your windshield wiper blades get really fragile in the cold and will likely fail if they’re not winterized. Standard wiper blades struggle under snow and sleet. It’s not uncommon for them to break off in the middle of driving.
You can swap out your wiper blades with little effort. Look for winter-ready blades that have a bit more strength to them. These blades also fair better cutting through snow and keeping vision unobstructed.
6. Warm it Up
Never jump into your vehicle and crank it up for a spin. Warming up the car is equal parts comfort and prevention. Going from 0 to driving without warming it up can damage your engine.
The materials inside rapidly expanding can crack and deform. All you need to do is give your car a few minutes to warm up and properly lubricate.
7. Winterize Your Car Tires
Tires that are well-worn cause so many accidents during the winter. The lack of tread and traction invites a recipe for disaster for defensive driving. It’s not something you’ll notice on your standard city commute.
The trouble happens when you need to maneuver quickly or stop suddenly. It takes very little snow to accumulate in worn treads, greatly reducing traction. Think of it as tying small ice skates to your wheels.
Winter tires are also made out of stronger, more resilient rubber. The tires stay pliable under icy conditions, giving you more traction.
Either have your tires changed or updated to winter tires. For those who don’t want to permanently invest in winter tires, you could go the tire chain route. They don’t cost a lot and you can take them off when the snow subsides.
8. Pack an Emergency Kit
Getting stranded in the dead of winter is a worst-case scenario. It’s even worse when your car won’t crank at all. Always prepare for the worst during the winter.
Have a little emergency kit box in your trunk filled with various tools, supplies, and comforts. Start with blankets, gloves, hats, scarves, and spare boots. This will be your set used to layer up in a car without heat.
Next, move onto your electronics, a power bank, flashlight, crankable radio, and spare cords. Pack some non-perishable food and drinks that you won’t mind eating cold. Think about packing some alcohol, too, if you experience a lot of below-freezing temps.
Top your kit off with other survival items and tools (ropes, knives, lighters, flares, etc.)
When Winterizing isn’t Enough
Last, but not least, if you can afford the extra cost, consider getting roadside assistance. No matter how well you winterize your car, there’s always the unknown. Another person’s accident could leave you stranded.
Spend as little time as possible sitting in an ice-cold car by having a few emergency calls in your pocket. Plus, if your car gets stuck for whatever reason, you can quickly get out of the snow without risking damage or injury.
We have plenty of car guides on our blog that will let you show off. Don’t pick a fight with freezing temperatures if you don’t have to. Use this newfound winter knowledge wisely-and check back daily for more car tips like these.