How to prepare your car for snow

Winter is upon us and that means snow-covered roads, icy conditions, and the need for extra caution while driving. To ensure your safety during the winter season it is crucial to properly equip your vehicle. This includes checking your tires and ensuring you have supplies, on hand.


Don’t let winter catch you off guard. Preparing your vehicle for snowy conditions is not a matter of convenience but also a crucial safety measure. Snow and ice on the roads can increase the risk of accidents.


One of the steps in preparing your car for conditions is checking your tires. Snow tires are specifically designed to offer traction in icy situations. These tires have treads and special rubber compounds that help the tires to remain flexible in low temperatures. They play a role in improving your cars grip on the road and reducing the likelihood of skidding or sliding.


Aside from snow tires it’s important to check your tire pressure during the winter months. Cold temperatures can cause tire pressure to decrease, which can affect how well your vehicle handles and its fuel efficiency. It is recommended to keep your tires inflated according to the manufacturers specifications for performance in snowy conditions.


Another critical aspect of preparing your car for snow is winterizing its fluids.


During the winter season low temperatures can lead to the thickening of fluids, like oil, coolant and windshield washer fluid. This can have an impact, on your cars engine performance. To ensure an operation of your vehicle it is important to inspect and refill these fluids.


Checking your tires and tire pressure


Checking your tires and maintaining proper tire pressure is crucial for safe driving in snowy conditions. Look carefully for any bulges, cracks, or uneven wear patterns. If you notice any issues, it’s recommended to replace your tires before the harsh winter conditions arrive.


Once you’ve inspected your tires, it’s time to check the tire pressure. Cold temperatures can cause tire pressure to drop. Refer to your vehicle’s manual or the tire placard on the driver’s side door jamb for the recommended tire pressure. Use a tire pressure gauge to measure the pressure and add air if necessary. Remember to check the pressure regularly throughout the winter season, as fluctuations can occur due to temperature changes.


Winterizing your car’s fluids


Winterizing your car’s fluids is an important step in preparing your vehicle for snow. When temperatures drop, fluids in your car can become thicker resulting in reduced performance and possible harm to the engine. Here are a few fluids you should pay attention to during the winter months:


1. Engine oil


Cold temperatures can cause engine oil to thicken, making it harder for your car’s engine to start. Check your oil level and viscosity regularly and consider using a winter-grade oil that is designed to perform better in cold weather conditions.


2. Coolant


Antifreeze, also known as coolant, is essential for preventing your car’s engine from freezing in cold temperatures. Check the coolant level and ensure it’s a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. If necessary, top up the coolant to the recommended levels.


3. Windshield washer fluid


Visibility is crucial in snowy conditions, so it’s important to ensure your windshield washer fluid is topped up. Use a winter-grade washer fluid that contains antifreeze to prevent it from freezing on your windshield.


4. Brake fluid


Cold temperatures can affect the performance of your car’s brakes. Check the brake fluid level and top it up if necessary. If your brake fluid is old or contaminated, consider flushing and replacing it.


Inspecting your car’s battery


Low temperatures can diminish the cranking power of the battery which can make it more challenging to get your car up and running. It’s important to take the time before winter sets in to examine your cars battery and confirm that it’s, in condition.


Start by checking the battery terminals for any signs of corrosion. Corroded terminals can prevent the battery from charging properly. Use a battery terminal cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the terminals if necessary.


A fully charged battery should have a voltage reading of around 12.6 volts. If the voltage is significantly lower, it may indicate a weak battery that needs to be replaced.


If your battery is more than three years old or shows signs of weakness, it’s recommended to have it tested by a professional. They can check if the battery is still in shape or if it requires replacement prior to the arrival of winter.


Checking your car’s heating system


Begin by testing the controls of the heater and adjusting the temperature to your desired level. Check if warm air is being blown out of the vents and if the airflow remains consistent. If you observe any problems, such as airflow or cool air coming from the vents it could indicate an issue with the heating system.


Sometimes the problem could be as basic as a blocked air filter. This filter helps in stopping dust, pollen and other particles from getting inside the cabin through the ventilation system. As time goes by, it can get clogged up and hinder the airflow.


If you’re unable to identify or fix the issue yourself, consult the mechanic.


Must-have supplies


Here are some items you should consider keeping in your car during the winter months:


1. Blankets and extra clothing


In the event of a breakdown or getting stuck in the snow, having extra blankets and warm clothing can keep you and your passengers warm while waiting for help.


2. Flashlight and extra batteries


A flashlight is essential for visibility during nighttime emergencies. Make sure to keep a working flashlight and extra batteries in your car.


3. Snow shovel and ice scraper


A snow shovel can help you dig your car out if it gets stuck in the snow.


4. Emergency food and water


Keep non-perishable food items such as granola bars and bottled water in your car in case you get stranded for an extended period.


5. First aid kit


A basic first aid kit is essential for treating minor injuries that may occur during emergencies.


6. Portable phone charger


In case your phone battery dies, a portable phone charger can ensure you have a means of communication.


7. Roadside assistance kit


Consider investing in a roadside assistance kit that includes items such as jumper cables, a reflective vest, and warning triangles.


Tips for driving in snowy conditions


Driving in snowy conditions requires extra caution and a different approach compared to driving on dry roads.


1. Reduce your speed and maintain a safe following distance. It takes longer to stop on snowy or icy roads, so give yourself plenty of time to react to any changes in traffic or road conditions.


2. Smooth and gradual movements are key to maintaining control on slippery surfaces. Avoid sudden acceleration, braking, or steering maneuvers that can cause your car to skid or slide.


3. Make sure to turn on your headlights/ parking lights even during the day.


4. Cruise control can be dangerous on slippery surfaces as it may cause your car to accelerate unintentionally if it loses traction. It’s best to avoid using cruise control in snowy or icy conditions.


5. Black ice often forms on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas. Watch for glossy, wet-looking patches on the road and reduce your speed when approaching these areas.


6. If possible, avoid stopping on hills as it can be difficult to regain traction and start moving again. If you must stop on a hill, leave plenty of space between you and the car in front to prevent sliding backward.


Preparing an emergency kit for your car


Here are some items to include in your car’s emergency kit:


1. Jumper cables


Jumper cables can help you start your car if the battery dies.


2. Tire chains or traction mats


Tire chains or traction mats can provide additional traction if you get stuck in the snow. Make sure to practice installing them before you actually need to use them.


3. Portable air compressor


A portable air compressor can help you inflate a flat tire temporarily until you can reach a service station.


4. Reflective vest


Keep reflective vest and warning triangles at all times.


5. Multi-tool or Swiss army knife


A multi-tool or Swiss army knife can come in handy for various tasks and repairs.


6. Duct tape and zip ties


These items can be used for temporary repairs until you can reach a service station.


7. Tow strap


A tow strap can be used to pull your car out if it gets stuck in the snow.


8. Fire extinguisher


A small fire extinguisher can help you put out small fires that may occur during emergencies.


Remember to periodically check the contents of your car’s emergency kit and replace any expired or damaged items.


Winter car maintenance checklist


To ensure your car remains in good condition throughout the winter months, here’s a checklist of maintenance tasks you should perform:


1. Check and replace wiper blades


Wiper blades should be in good condition to provide clear visibility. Replace them if they are worn or damaged.


2. Check and replace headlights and taillights


Properly functioning headlights and taillights are essential for visibility. Check and replace any burnt-out bulbs.


3. Check and replace the cabin air filter


A clean cabin air filter ensures proper airflow and prevents debris from entering the cabin.


4. Check and replace the engine air filter


A clean engine air filter improves fuel efficiency and protects your engine from dirt and debris.


5. Check and top-up windshield washer fluid


Ensure your windshield washer fluid is topped up and contains antifreeze to prevent freezing.


6. Check and replace worn or damaged belts and hoses


Cold temperatures can cause belts and hoses to become brittle. Inspect them for any signs of wear or damage and replace if necessary.


7. Check and replace worn or damaged spark plugs


Spark plugs play a crucial role in starting your car in cold weather conditions. Replace any worn or damaged spark plugs.


8. Check and replace worn or damaged brake pads


Properly functioning brakes are essential for safe driving. Inspect your brake pads and replace if necessary.


Performing these maintenance tasks before and throughout the winter season can help prolong the life of your car and ensure it performs optimally in snowy conditions.


My 2 cents


​Winter driving can be challenging, but with the right preparations, you can navigate the roads safely and confidently. Remember to adjust your driving behavior to the road conditions, maintain a safe following distance, and prioritize safety at all times.

Created By Arjun Kamra

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