We have been in the Fall season a week now and while it doesn’t yet feel different from Summer, intuitively we know cooler temps are around the corner. Just like the cooler temps affect us as humans, it also has some impact to your vehicle. These effects can be minimized simply by preparing your car for the impending colder temperatures. Moreover, preparing a vehicle for cooler weather is essential to ensure safe and efficient operation during fall and winter months. Here are the key steps to take:
- Check the Battery: Cold weather can put extra strain on your vehicle’s battery. Have it tested to ensure it’s in good condition and replace it if needed. Also, clean the battery terminals and connections.
- Inspect the Heating System: Ensure that your vehicle’s heating system is working properly. If you notice any issues with the heater, defroster, or blower, have them repaired.
- Check the Antifreeze/Coolant: Make sure the coolant in your radiator is a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. This prevents the coolant from freezing in cold temperatures. Check the level and condition of the coolant regularly.
- Change the Oil: Consider switching to a lower-viscosity oil suitable for colder weather. This helps with easier engine starts and better performance in low temperatures.
- Inspect Tires: Check tire tread depth and tire pressure regularly. Consider switching to winter tires if you live in an area with heavy snowfall. Winter tires provide better traction and handling in cold weather.
- Test the Brakes: Have your brakes checked for wear and tear. Make sure the braking system is in good working order to handle slippery road conditions.
- Replace Wiper Blades: Install new wiper blades to ensure clear visibility in rain, sleet, and snow. Also, top up the windshield washer fluid with a winter formula that won’t freeze.
- Check Lights and Signals: Ensure all exterior lights, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals, are working correctly. Clean them to maximize visibility in winter weather.
- Inspect the Defroster and Climate Control System: Make sure the defroster and climate control system are functioning correctly. Clear windows are essential for safe driving in cold weather.
- Prepare an Emergency Kit: Assemble a winter emergency kit that includes items like an ice scraper, snow shovel, blankets, flashlight, extra clothing, non-perishable snacks, and a first-aid kit.
- Check Fluid Levels: Verify the levels of other essential fluids such as transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Top them off as needed.
- Inspect the Exhaust System: Ensure the exhaust system is in good condition. Leaks can be especially dangerous in cold weather when windows are often closed.
- Check 4WD or AWD Systems (if applicable): If your vehicle has four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), make sure these systems are functioning correctly. They are particularly useful in snowy or icy conditions.
- Keep the Gas Tank Full: Try to keep your gas tank at least half full during colder months to prevent moisture buildup in the fuel system and to ensure you have enough fuel in case of an emergency.
- Plan for Winter Driving: Familiarize yourself with winter driving techniques, like braking and accelerating gently, and increase following distances. Consider carrying sand or kitty litter for traction if you get stuck.
Regular vehicle maintenance and preparedness are crucial for safe driving in colder weather. It’s a good idea to schedule a comprehensive inspection with a qualified mechanic before winter arrives to address any potential issues. OKC Auto Works can help with that. Give us a call at (405) 634-8200 to schedule a “check up” today so you can start preparing your vehicle for cooler weather.