by Benjamin Yong
Winter is coming — to avoid being stuck out in the cold and on the side of the road, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the upcoming frigid conditions beforehand. We ask industry experts to share five top tips on getting your vehicle winter ready now.
Get your vehicle winter-ready. Follow these 5 tips:
1. Install Proper Tires
The single most crucial safety factor is the condition of your tires. Winter tires (like these ones from BFGoodrich) are recommended for the season, identifiable by a symbol on the sidewall that looks like a snowflake inside a mountain. The problem with commonly-run all season tires is that they start to lose traction and flexibility as the temperature dips down to 7 C, which is when winter rubber performs at its best.
As Consumer Reports points out in this article, despite a shorter tread life common with winter tires, leading to more road noise compared to all-season rubber, the switch to winter-only is worth the compromise for the extra safety.
2. Check Those Fluids
Something overlooked quite often is fluid levels. Antifreeze, engine and transmission oil and power steering and windshield washer fluid should all be inspected. The only protection your car’s engine has against cold and freezing is the antifreeze, therefore it is very important to follow the recommendations laid out in the owner’s manual. Remember to always let the radiator cool down before working on it.
3. Lights before Action
Ensure all exterior lights are functioning and that you’ve got the proper headlight bulbs installed this winter. Proper operation of the headlights will signal to pedestrians and other vehicles on the road that you are approaching them, and will also assist you in seeing where you are going. Brake lights alert drivers behind you that you are stopping, and turn signals are self-explanatory but are also responsible for acting as your hazard lights in emergencies.
4. Get a Safety Kit
Travel with a roadside safety kit: it should contain a flashlight, new batteries, gloves, dry food, bottled water, road flares and emergency markers. Other good items to have on hand are rain boots, a thick, waterproof jacket and a small blanket that will all come in handy during a breakdown.
5. Functioning Windshield Wiper Blades
Finally, check your windshield wiper blades. We tend to forget about these until we need them — the blades should replaced once in the winter and again in the spring.
Here it is in a quick checklist: