Snow, sleet, ice or just a seasonal climate change – it’s that time of the year again, and we’re here to make sure you’re ready for it all. Bring it on, Mother Nature!
A car kit keeps your car fit.
A properly packed emergency kit is crucial during the fall and winter months. There are more ways to get "stuck" than any of us can think of, so your best bet is to drive a little smarter by keeping these essentials in your car:
A spare tire and tools to change it.
Bottles of engine oil, washer fluid and coolant.
Tow and tire chains.
Flashlights and flares.
Ice scraper, snow brush and shovel.
Extra pair of gloves and waterproof boots.
Pack of matches or a lighter.
Blankets and other warm or wet weater gear.
Bottled water and protein bar or other non-perishable foods.
First aid kit.
Bag of rock salt or kitty litter for traction on icy or muddy roads.
Transistor radio and extra batteries for accessing traffic and weather broadcasts about weather conditions as well as alternate routes.
Here is a list of key Web sites like the Weather Channel's site for traffic and weather conditions in your area.
Make sure all is good under the hood.
Belts and hoses under the hood are typically checked when a vehicle is due for a tune-up (about every 30,000 miles), but cold temperatures can weaken these to the point of cracking or snapping so they should be checked before winter hits.
If one does crack or snap while the vehicle is in use, a tow truck is the way to go.
Make sure to also check your air filter. A clogged, dirty air filter can cause poor performance, bad fuel mileage and can reduce the life of your engine. It is very easy and inexpensive to replace. Look at your owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace and the intervals you should replace your air filter. A good rule of thumb is that you should replace your air filter every 12 months.
It's all about the oil.
Oil tends to thicken with cold weather, which stops it from reducing friction between moving parts, cleaning harmful contaminants in the engine and, overall, keeping your vehicle going.
During the winter, check your oil and oil viscosity, and read your owner’s manual or visit a mechanic to determine which oil type will best keep your car going throughout the season.
PUMP THE BATTERY.
Even if you live in a warmer climate, even mildly cold weather can be an electrical system’s worst enemy – especially for the battery. Combine cold weather with increased power demands of blasting defrosters, windshield wipers and heating systems, and a weak battery just won’t do.
First, run an at home battery test by turning on your headlights prior to starting the engine. Once you do turn on your headlights, notice whether your lights get brighter. If they do, have your battery checked out by a professional.
Speaking of lights, make sure that your lights are working properly both inside and out to avoid any accidents or getting a ticket!
BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE.
If you live in a colder climate, chances are you have 4WD (4-Wheel-Drive), and you need to make sure it’s working before the snow starts to fall. 4WD improves tire traction on snow and ice, which decreases the possibility of getting stuck in a snow storm.
If you live in a snowy and hilly place, you should consider getting snow tires. Get the snow tire 101 here.
Also, make sure to check your brakes! If your brakes are squealing, it may be time to get them replaced. If you also notice that your brake pedal is softer than normal, it could be a sign of abnormal deterioration.
Meineke service centers are located throughout North America and can help prepare you and your vehicle for the fall and winter months.
KEEP THE JUICES FLOWING.
Winter weather often means low-visibility. Help keep your eye on the prize (or at least on the road) with fully functional windshield wipers and fluids. Remember, plain water won’t do the trick because it freezes, and, although, wipers should be changed every six to 12 months, they are known to crack easily in extreme heat or cold.
So refill and replace liquid and wipers-in-need.
HAVE YOURSELF SOME ANTI-FREEZE.
Don’t let the name fool you! Antifreeze is not only meant to prevent freezing. It’s also a lubricating, anti-corrosive and stabilizing liquid that works to keep the engine’s cooling system from freezing and the actual engine from overheating. Antifreeze is crucial in any temperature that is not average – cold or hot.
It’s important to use the correct amount. Make sure to keep a 50:50 ratio between the liquid and water, which is sold pre-mixed.
Lack of antifreeze or of the proper proportion can lead to overheating problems, which can result in high labor costs.
ARE YOU FEELING THE PRESSURE?
Dropping temperatures usually mean dropping tire pressure, and under inflated tires mean more friction when the rubber meets the road. This added friction causes rapid, uneven wear and tear as well as less protection for rims, which can lead to wheel alignment problems.
Although tire pressure should be checked regularly, it’s particularly important during the colder months. When doing this, your tire pressure should match the level listed in your owner’s manual.