It is no wonder why we love to live in or visit places, such as Palm Springs and South Florida, during the winter.
Half of the nation gets to deal with snow, ice, sleet, and colder temperatures. We either love it or hate it. Others love the fantasy of “walking in a winter wonderland.”
For those of us who are exposed to the snow, ice, and cold, we are often provided with images of our vehicles in this kind of weather. But, we also know that we need to maintain our vehicles through this time of year.
Ask yourselves a question: Is your beloved vehicle ready for winter?
Now, ask yourselves another question: What do you do to get your vehicle ready for the snow, ice, and cold?
Here are some tips to get through this and every winter…
DO A CHECK-UP ON YOUR VEHICLE: This is important, so your vehicle can get through each winter to ensure that key components can survive the temperature and moisture changes in the atmosphere. Belts, hoses, and windshield wipers are key items to check, as rubber is sensitive to the colder air.
The cooling system, heater, defrosters, and windshield washer will also need to be checked. The idea is to ensure optimal performance through colder temperatures. All systems should have enough fluids flowing where they need to be. The heater and defrosters must not only work properly but provide enough heat to keep the windows clear and the cabin comfortable.
Most of all, get your oil change. Instead of getting a winter mix for your engine oil, stick with what the manufacturer says. If they have a specific oil weight for winter – change it to that until the weather gets warmer.
Lastly – and more importantly – the brakes. On icy and snowy roads, your brakes can wear if used the same as in the rest of the year. Get a brake check to see pad wear and rotor/drum condition.
THE TIRE QUESTION: In most states, winter tires are not required for use. There are some states who do not allow studded tires on the road. Whether your state allows for studded tires or not, a set of winter rubber would be a great idea in snowy/icy climates.
If you cannot afford a second set of tires, make sure that your all-season set has more than adequate tread. You can put a penny inside the grooves to see if it covers Lincoln’s head, but you probably want to make sure you have around half tread life for a better chance at getting through winter. If not, replace them.
In theory, you can get through winter on all season tires. You will find that your ability to stop will not be optimal. Tests show that a car on all-season tires on icy surfaces will stop double the distance than a car on winter/snow tires.
SHOULD YOU HAVE A SURVIVAL KIT? There will be times when you will feel as you are the only person on the highway during a snow storm. It is suggested to have such a kit available when you are stranded in a remote area where you are miles from a gas station, restaurant, auto shop, and so forth. It is also helpful when you know that your cell phone is low on charge or that the nearest place to have your vehicle serviced is extremely far away.
A winter survival kit may include all of these items: a shovel, windshield scraper and small broom, flashlight with extra batteries, battery powered radio, water, snack food including energy bars, raisins and mini candy bars, matches and small candles, extra hats, socks and mittens, first aid kit with pocket knife, necessary medications, blankets or sleeping bag, tow chain or rope, road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction, booster cables, emergency flares and reflectors, fluorescent distress flag and whistle to attract attention, and a cell phone adapter to plug into a lighter.
When you do make a kit, make sure that it fits in your trunk, or in the passenger compartment if it does not fit with the trunk lid closed.
The bottom line is that half, if not most, of the nation, will experience a form of winter that will be cold and inhospitable for motorists. We may have already experienced it. Winter will not officially turn over until December 21. Perhaps it is time to consider getting your vehicle ready for it – at least for the holiday travel season!