Driving is an everyday part of life for the owners of more than 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. Due diligence helps drivers prevent the possibility of being stranded in the cold and can help eliminate the need for unexpected emergency repairs, which can be costly.
The winter season is probably the worst time of year to skip routine oil changes. Leading oil provider, Chevron, urges consumers to ensure use of oil that has the right viscosity, or thickness, for each vehicle. Oil tends to thicken as temperatures cool and oil that is too thick won’t perform its key function; keeping the engine lubricated. Review a vehicle’s owner manual for guidance about which oil to use.
Tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and stopping a vehicle. The tire professionals at Cooper Tire say a tire’s minimum tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire. If the tread is measured and any spot on the tire measures 2/32 of an inch deep or less, the tire must be replaced immediately. Especially during the winter months and while driving in adverse conditions, tires should exceed the minimum tread depth standard. While examining the tread, look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss may occur.
Every vehicle should aim to have an equal mix of antifreeze and water inside the radiator. It’s easy to check the status of the mixture with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which can be picked up at any auto parts store. If the mixture is off, the cooling system should be drained and refilled or flushed. Also, keep the gas tank as full as possible to prevent freezing gas lines.
Batteries should be periodically checked at every oil change to make sure the posts and connections are fully operational and corrosion-free. If the battery is more than three years old, head to the nearest Meineke Total Car Care Center and allow a certified technician to test its ability to hold a charge. Our Meineke professionals recommend cleaning any corrosion the battery might have at home with a good wash of battery terminal cleaner.
Pack a bag of essentials to keep in the trunk during the winter months. Suggested supplies include: blankets, extra clothes, water, snacks, a small shovel, flashlight, flares, first-aid kit, and a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.
Seeing streaks when the windshield wipers are on? The lifespan of wipers is usually about a year, starting with a fresh pair every winter is recommended. Also, make sure the right kind of windshield washer fluid is being used. Many people use water in a pinch during the warmer months, which won’t work very well in freezing temperatures. Take a few minutes to fill the fluid reservoir with windshield wiper fluid.
Tires must also be properly inflated to ensure vehicles have the best possible traction while on the road. The air pressure in tires drops as the weather gets colder, so it’s important to check tire pressure regularly as winter weather approaches. In general, tires lose one pound of pressure per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Drivers should consult the owner manual or the vehicle tire placard located on the driver’s side door to determine the correct tire pressure for each vehicle.
Not only do lights keep drivers safe in the dark, they also help drivers navigate through rough weather conditions. If headlights, brake lights, and especially hazards are looking dim, installing new light bulbs or applying a light restoration kit can make a world of difference when it gets a little harder to see. Prepare in advance and keep a few extra bulbs and a small tool kit in the glove box.
If a car’s heating or defrosting system is not working properly, there is no better time than prior to impending winter weather to invest in repairs. Heat keeps drivers and passengers comfortable and safe by helping clear up windows. Keep an ice scraper handy to help clear frosty windows.
Unfortunately, bad things happen, so it’s best to have a plan in case they do. Before heading out on wintery roads, know where the nearest Meineke Car Care Center is in the case emergency repairs are needed. When stranded, don’t leave the vehicle if uncertain about location. If enough gas is available, run the heat for 10 minutes per hour while waiting for help to arrive.
1 Estimates for fuel saving from proper tire inflation, engine tuning, proper oil changing, overall car maintenance and sensible driving are based on Gas Mileage Tips from the
U.S. Department of Energy.