With winter just around the corner, you have to make sure you’re ready to deal with the challenging and hazardous driving conditions the season brings. Properly winterizing your vehicle not only reduces your chances of getting into an accident but can also help you prevent car problems that can lead to expensive repairs. The following are several things you can do to ensure your car will be able to cope with cold weather and provide a safe driving experience:
Protect Your Paint Job
Image via Flickr by SchuminWeb
During the winter months, you may want to think twice about parking your vehicle outside. Complete and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and winter elements can cause your car to experience various issues, such as battery problems and corroded brake rotors. If you have a garage, you should clear it out to make room for your car. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality car cover with thermal insulation properties.
Additionally, it’s recommended that you wash your vehicle at least once every two weeks throughout the winter months. This is a great way to keep road salt off your car, which can help prevent corrosion. Finally, for better rust protection, you should consider giving your car a fresh coat of wax before the start of winter.
Monitor Your Tires
Image via Flickr by The National Roads and Motorists’ Association
As the temperature drops, so does your tire pressure. Generally, tires lose 1 to 2 psi for every 10-degree decrease in temperature. Under-inflated tires can adversely affect your vehicle’s handling as they’re unable to grip the road properly. They’re especially dangerous in winter when road conditions become more slippery. Therefore, you should make a point to check your tire pressure at least once a month during winter. Then, inflate your tires according to the recommended pressure level listed in your owner’s manual or on the driver-side door jamb.
Additionally, you have to make sure your tires have sufficient tread. In Texas, it’s a legal requirement for tires to have a minimum tread depth of 1/16 inch. However, during winter, it’s recommended that you maintain a tire tread depth of at least 2/16 inches so that your car will handle better on wet and slippery roads. The most accurate way to measure the tread depth of your tires is to use a tire tread depth gauge, which you can purchase from your local auto parts store.
Check Your Battery
Ever wondered why your car struggles to start on a cold winter morning? It’s because cold temperatures slow down the chemical reactions in your battery, undermining its ability to produce enough power to activate the starter fully. Also, your battery tends to lose its charge at a faster rate during winter. This increases your odds of being stranded with a vehicle that won’t start.
You can find out the health status of your car’s battery by performing a load test. A load test is usually done with a handheld voltmeter or multimeter, which measures a battery’s capacity and charge. While you can check your battery yourself, it’s recommended that you leave the task in the hands of a professional mechanic. Besides doing a load test, a mechanic will also look for other problems such as low fluid levels, leaks, corrosion, and loose connections, all of which can lead to battery failure.
Inspect Your Windshield and Windshield Wipers
Another driving challenge that winter poses is poor visibility. Snow, rain, and fog can make it difficult to see the road ahead and the motorists and pedestrians around you. This can increase your risk of getting into an accident. To improve driving visibility in winter conditions, you have to ensure your windshield is in good condition. Check your windshield for chips and cracks, which can worsen in low temperatures. If you find any, get them fixed before the cold weather sets in.
Your windshield wipers also play an essential role in ensuring clear visibility. Unfortunately, they can lose their effectiveness sooner than most people think. Run your wipers a few times to see if they leave any streaks on the windshield. If they do, it’s probably time to replace them with new ones. Windshield wipers come in different lengths and sizes, so you have to make sure you choose the right set for your specific vehicle. The best thing to do is get a replacement at your local service center, which offers OEM windshield wipers that perfectly match your car.
When the occasional snowfall comes around, you should avoid using your windshield wipers to remove snow and ice from your windshield. The rough surface of ice can cause damage to the rubber edges of your wipers. Instead, use a deicer or ice scraper to get rid of ice on your windshield. When you park your vehicle outside, remember to lift your windshield wipers up to prevent them from freezing to the windshield. Also, it would be best if you topped off your windshield washer reservoir, preferably with a fluid designed for low temperatures.
Prepare a Winter Emergency Kit
Emergencies can happen to even the most careful drivers. For example, if a flat tire or dead battery leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere, you need to have some protection against the cold while waiting for help to arrive.
In addition to your standard emergency kit, you should also keep a special winter emergency kit in your car. Some of the items you should have in this kit include blankets, hand-warmers or heat packets, gloves, hats, rain jackets, boots, a handheld shovel, an ice scraper, a snow brush, a deicer, and sand for traction on a slippery surface.
If you own a Kia vehicle in McKinney, Texas, and want to have it thoroughly inspected and serviced before winter, consider coming to Huffines Kia McKinney. Our dealership has a state-of-the-art service center that offers a wide range of auto services to properly prepare your car for winter, from battery inspection to windshield wiper replacement. Feel free to contact us today if you have any questions or want to make an appointment.