How to get your car ready for winter
Winter will be here before you know it, and now’s the perfect time to prepare your car for poor driving conditions caused by snow, slush, and ice. Check these car care to-dos off your list for a safe drive all season long:
- Replace worn wiper blades. Next time it rains, if you notice areas of your windshield that stay wet after being wiped, replace your wiper blades — they may be worn out, and you’ll want them working well in the winter. Even if your wipers are in decent condition, you could consider swapping them with heavier, winter-specific ones that will wipe away ice and snow more easily.
- Top up your windshield washer fluid with a de-icing formula. Regular washer fluid can freeze in its tank or when you spray it onto your windshield on a chilly day. Consider picking up a winter-specific windshield washer formula instead, and always keep an extra bottle in your trunk.
- Get an oil change. If you’re almost due for an oil change, get it done now to save you a trip to the mechanic over the winter months.
- Check your brakes. When the roads are covered in snow and ice, stopping takes extra care. Make sure your brake pads are in good shape and top up your brake fluid — and don’t forget to leave lots of extra space between your car and the one in front of you when the roads are wet or icy.
- Test your heat and defrost systems. Turn on the heat in your vehicle and make sure it gets nice and toasty. If you suspect it’s not getting as warm as it should, consider having the system inspected. You could also remove and clean your air filter to make sure your heating system runs as efficiently as possible.
- Swap your all-season tires for winter tires. All-season tires can stiffen and start losing their elasticity as the temperature drops, which can lead to decreased traction. Winter tires, on the other hand, are designed to stay flexible even in extremely chilly weather, so you’ll get a better grip on slippery streets. Installing winter tires could also qualify you for a discount on car insurance.
- Check your battery. Cold winter weather makes it tougher for your battery to get your engine running, so have it tested to make sure there’s no corrosion on the terminals, the cables are in good shape, and there’s enough energy to keep you going all winter long.
- Flash your lights. Do a circle check to make sure all of your lights (including brake lights, daytime running lights, headlights, turn signals, and high-beams) are working.
- Prepare your winter driving emergency kit. No matter how carefully you drive, a snowy street can have a mind of its own, and you may find yourself needing to take cover and wait out a storm in your vehicle. Stay safe and warm by keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your car.
- Go for a winter tune-up. If you think this sounds like a lot of things to get done in a short time, fear not — you might be surprised to find out how many of the items on this list can be taken care of in one visit to your dealership or a qualified mechanic. A winter tune-up will likely cover most of them, plus a check of your fluids (e.g., coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid), an inspection of your engine and exhaust system, and tests for electronic components like sensors.
Before you get out on the road this winter, reach out to your car insurance broker to make sure you’ll be covered all season long. And remember, when it comes to driving in snowy and icy conditions, slow and steady wins the race.
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