Essential Checks to Prepare Your Car for a Cold Winter

September 26, 2021
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The cold Winter season usually comes with its fair share of rigorous conditions that it is crucial for every driver to prepare themselves and car for when it arrives. Your car needs to be ready for winter and be able to face the challenges of the cold season, there is nothing enjoyable about being stranded on the streets out in the cold. Although, some of the checks may not cost you much, be prepared to fork out much more if you choose to neglect your checklist prior. Here are 9 simple steps that anyone could follow as recommended by Schmicko.

1. Check your car battery

The very first thing that needs to be checked is the car battery. When the temperature drops the chemical reactions inside the battery slow down. This causes the battery to lose its ability to start the car or simply put, the cold-cranking amperage drops a bit. Keep in mind that a battery that is fully charged can survive at very low temperatures but when it has a low charge, it can freeze. A frozen battery cannot be recovered. Check the voltage of your battery with the car turned off or ask an expert mechanic to check it for you if you notice that the engine struggles to start. Your local mechanic is typically equipped with a meter that can measure roughly how much is left of your car battery. 

2. Top up your coolant/anti-freeze

The coolant gets diluted over time. It does not matter all that much during the summer but in the winter, if the coolant is too diluted, it will freeze in your radiator. This is unlikely to happen but if you have neglected to check your coolant in a while, it can happen. To make sure that your car is ready for winter you need to top up the coolant with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze, or alternatively, read the label of your coolant for further dilution instructions. Some car owners tend to remove the coolant from the coolant reservoir and add fresh coolant if they suspect that it is diluted too much.

3. Use proper tyres

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All-season tyres are fine but not great. In the winter, they are worse than winter tyres and in the summer they are worse than summer tyres. You need to have proper winter tyres if you want to be able to stop the car in safe conditions. Summer tyres are to be completely avoided. At cold temperature, the rubber hardens, and the tires can no longer hold a grip. Also, check the conditions of your tyres. If the tread depth is 2/32 of an inch or lower, you may need to get new tires. Check your tyre for wear indicators or lookup the manufacturer website for further guidance.

4. Check your windscreen wipers

If you haven`t replaced your windscreen wipers in the last 6 months or more, now it would be a good time to do it. Wipers do not last for a very long time and if they have been worn out, they will become useless when the outside temperature gets low. Get new windshield wipers to ensure that your car is ready for winter. Blurred vision and poor clarity, is a huge and risky hazard for you and your passengers, don’t take that risk.

5. Lubricate window tracks and weather stripping

All you have to do is open all doors, take the windows down, and use a silicone-based lubricant. The most useful lubricants are the ones that come in the form of a spray and that are safe to use on plastic. Use a piece of microfiber cloth to spread the silicone lubricant across the window tracks and weather stripping. This will make it easier to open doors if water gets in and freezes.

6. Check the heating system

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Odds are you do not use your car AC to warm up until late autumn or when winter is already here. By then you may find just how inconvenient it can be to discover that the heater is not working. Check the car heater before winter settles in and ensure you get it fixed if you find that there is a problem with it. Especially if you have a fairly aged car, best to consider using an alternate vehicle as their heating system may not be sufficient and can get overworked.

7. Change your washer fluid

Regular window washer fluid will freeze up inside the pipes and in the washer reservoir. If the washer fluid is frozen and you can cause the pump to break down. What you should do is get winter washer fluid that does not freeze at low temperatures. These washer fluids typically have some type of antifreeze. To get ready for winter just use up all the regular fluid still left in the reservoir then top it off with washer fluid that does not freeze.

8. Check your headlights

If your home is in an area that typically has snowy winters, you need to check your headlights. Ensure that no light bulb is blown and replace the ones that no longer work. You should also check your fog lights, brake lights, and indicators. You are ready for winter only if your lights are working and you are certain that your car is visible during harsh weather conditions or the night. For those with faded and oxidized headlights, look to have it restored by having it properly buffed, polished and sealed in with a protective coating.

9. Check your first aid kit

A lot of people tend to neglect this but you should check your first aid kit. These have an expiration date and you do not want to have an expired first aid kit, especially during the winter. Better yet, make sure you have on in the car in the first place. You never know what could arise as accidents do happen unexpectedly.

So, there you have it. An easy 9 step checklist to ensure that you, your car and passengers are well prepared prior to Winter. Many accidents do occur during this period and it only makes sense to do all things necessary to minimise your risk of being caught up in these situations.

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Shahbaz Ahmed

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