Alight, I know I used the phrase…..for all you Game of Thrones fans out there, including myself. But, the reality is, winter is coming. No season can be more brutal on our cars like winter. We beat up on our cars anyway, with hard stops, potholes, fast turns, etc. Sub freezing temperatures make taking car of your car a bit more challenging. So, here are some easy tips to help you beat ol’ man winter.
First, start off with a fresh oil and filter change. Most reliable garages will do a courtesy inspection on your car to keep you up to date. (they put the car on a lift where there is an obviously better vantage point than you crawling around on the cold concrete and trying to check yourself). If your garage does not do this type of inspection, ASK them. Or, find a better and more reliable repair garage. Have them check all fluid levels and top them off if needed. Have them set the tires pressures to 35-36psi. I know what you are thinking, the tire pressure is too high. Well, truth is warm ambient temperatures expand the air molecules and can possibly increase the tire pressure in the summer. On the opposite, the cold ambient temperatures will cause the air molecules to shrink causing the tire pressures to decrease. Remember that your tires are an incredibly important component of your car. (we will talk more in depth about tires another time).
Second, you want to be prepared for an emergency. I would like to think that we are always prepared, however, we all know how fast a winter storm can roll in while you are at work and dump 8 inches of snow. Then you have to get home. Simple enough, except maybe the plows didn’t get to your area yet. You leave work, get halfway home, then get stuck in the snow. Now what? We need to be prepared. So, here are some things you should have in your car for such occasions. A blanket, a flashlight (check your batteries), a bottle of water, an ice scraper (I usually get one with a brush on it), be sure that your cell phone is charged, if possible, call a family member or neighbor so that someone knows you will be out there trying to get home, some energy bars (these are great if you are stuck for an extended period of time), and finally a few flares. There is no doubt there are more things that you can keep in your car, I just want to offer the basics.
Third, and this one is tough because we are all too impatient. So, you are done work, you get to your frozen, icy, snowy car jump in and start the engine. The first thing you do is turn the windshield wipers on to clear the snow/ice. The wipers don’t move and all you hear is a moan. Not good. So, don’t do that. EVER. Take a moment and let it sink in, so all your synapses are in full cooperation with one another. Store this in the file of your brain that you access regularly. There is a very high possibility that a component will break and then your worse off than you when you started. So, to avoid this, once then engine is on, turn your defroster on high and let the engine and the warm air it generates do all the work. It won’t take long. After a bit, you will see the snow and ice melting and then you can begin cleaning the rest off with your scraper/brush that you stowed in your trunk. I saw constant windshield wiper and wiper components break because we are too impatient and wouldn’t take the time. The key is to be safe. We need to be extra sure of that during the winter. And always, always clean ALL of the car’s horizontal surfaces and the windows. There are laws is some states that if a chunk of ice flies off your car and hits another causing damage, you can be held liable.
Finally, know your roads. Huh? what? Yeah, know your roads. If you haven’t noticed before there are roads in your area that are designated as “snow routes”. These are the roads that your city and or county is going to get cleared first. So, look for those roads and see if you can plan a different route home using the snow routes when the time comes. I know you like to take the back roads normally, and the snow routes may take a little longer, but it’s better to make it home in one piece. I’m certain your family would all agree.