It doesn’t matter if you drive a brand new car or you’re caring for a well-loved truck or SUV, winter can be tough on nearly any vehicle. Colder temperatures can affect almost every part of a vehicle, from tires and fuel tanks to windshield wipers and door locks. To keep your vehicle on the road and running properly during the colder winter months, take full advantage of these winter car tips.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Car During the Winter Months
Depending on where you live, some winters may be harsher on your vehicle than others. It’s a good rule of thumb to follow these rules when preparing your vehicle to help weather the chilly temps and increased precipitation, whether that’s rain, snow or ice.
- Invest in winter tires. Winter tires are designed to better handle slick road conditions such as snow or ice. These tires have special tread or tire chains to help you maintain traction as you drive in the winter, or they could be regular tires fitted with chains.
If winter tires aren’t in your budget, make sure your existing tires are properly inflated. Cold temperatures often lead to reduced air pressure that could cause problems for you as you drive.
- Keep your fuel tank above half full. In addition to making sure you have enough gas to get to your destination during cold weather, keeping your fuel tank half full can reduce the risk of condensation freezing in your fuel pump.
- Protect (or replace) your windshield wipers. Poor visibility is a major factor in many winter weather auto accidents, so it’s important to keep windshield wipers in good condition prior to the winter. You should also leave your wipers raised if you plan on parking outside. This prevents them from freezing to the windshield.
- Fill your coolant. Antifreeze keeps the engine from freezing in bitterly cold temperatures. Prior to winter weather settling in, take your car to a mechanic and make sure there are no leaks in your engine that could lead to lost coolant.
- Test the battery and replace if necessary. Batteries don’t work as well in cold temperatures in comparison to warm. If you know your battery is weak in summer or fall, have it tested before cold temperatures become common. If you have any concerns, get it replaced before you end up stranded with a car that won’t start.
- Check all the lights. The early sunsets of winter often mean your commute home takes place during dusk or later. Replace any dead bulbs in headlights, tail lights, and brake lights. If these fixtures are foggy or yellow, replace or restore them with a kit.
- Test your heater and defroster. The last thing you want is to be stuck out in the elements with a frozen windshield or trying to drive with foggy windows. Ensure your heater and defroster are in good working order to maintain safe, comfortable driving during the winter months.
- Pack a winter driving/survival kit. Weather during this time of year can be unpredictable. Conditions change quickly and can lead to you and your vehicle being stranded in a parking lot or—if you’re in an accident—on the side of the road or in a snowbank. Having a kit to help you can make a big difference in not just your comfort, but your safety, too.
Useful Winter Car Accessories
It’s never been easier to put together a safety kit for your vehicle. In addition to standard items such as jumper cables or a jump-starter, consider adding the following items to your vehicle’s trunk or backseat during the winter season:
- A collapsible snow shovel won’t allow you to easily clear an entire driveway, but it could help you dig your car out of thick snow that accumulates around the tires.
- An ice scraper is the only way you should ever remove ice from your windshield. Throwing hot water on it could crack the glass, and using your windshield wipers could damage them. If possible, choose a scraper that includes a brush for snow removal. This can help protect your vehicle’s paint as you scrape ice.
- Other basic necessities, such as a flashlight, blanket, knife, unopened bottles of water and snack foods can be helpful if you’re stranded for hours on end.
- A mobile phone charger that works with your vehicle’s cigarette lighter can help keep it charged. Just like car batteries, mobile phone batteries are less efficient in cold weather.
Importance of Taking Care of Your Car During Cold Weather
The number one reason to take care of your car during cold weather is to ensure you’re not left stranded at an inopportune time. Other basic winter car maintenance tasks, such as keeping your wipers clean and your tires ready for snow and ice, can make the difference between safely arriving at your destination and getting into an accident.
In addition, proper maintenance can help your vehicle retain its value, which could be helpful in the event of an auto claim or when it’s time to sell or trade the car in.
Take Care of Your Car During Winter with the Right Auto Insurance
Preparing your vehicle with car maintenance for cold weather is only one part of ensuring you’re ready for the winter season. You’ll also want to make sure your insurance coverage is up to snuff. Accidents and vehicle damage can happen as a result of poor visibility, terrible road conditions or even simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Great auto insurance can help lessen the blow and get you back on the road.
At SelectQuote, we help you find car insurance by comparing quotes from several trusted insurance companies at once—helping you save both time and money.