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6 Winter Car Care Tips to Outwit Jack Frost

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car on road in winter
Arm yourself with some smart strategies to overcome winter’s car care challenges

Jack Frost can definitely make it challenging to preserve your car’s condition during the winter. Cold air and inclement weather can take a toll on tires’ air pressure, as well as your vehicle’s battery and braking system. Here are six winter car maintenance tips to help your vehicle run safely and smoothly during the colder months.

Winter Break: Seasonal service tips when you’re driving less

Check the tires

Car tire wheel rubber tread pavement
Make sure your tires’ tread is thick enough to last you through the winter
Photo: The News Wheel

First things first, be sure you have the right kind of tires on your car. If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow, consider switching to winter tires that have deeper tread and enhanced traction to give you more peace of mind on slick roads.

And whether or not you elect to swap out the tires, make it a point to check tire pressure frequently. With every drop of 10 degrees Fahrenheit, a tire will lose about one pound of pressure, as WHIO-TV confirms. For optimal safety, keep your tires properly inflated all season.

Replace windshield wiper blades

windshield wiper
Winter is a good time to replace worn out wiper blades

We recommend replacing your blades twice a year, and pre-winter maintenance is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this. Snow, sleet, and fog will decrease visibility. New wiper blades will give you more confidence going into winter, knowing that these tools will help your car handle whatever inclement weather the season brings.

Manage the fluids

windshield washer fluid
Regularly replenish your car’s supply of windshield washer fluid during the winter

And no, we’re not talking about remembering bathroom breaks. In the winter months, you’ll want to keep your car’s fluids from freezing. This means changing your oil and using a thinner, less viscous product. You’ll also want to use windshield washer fluid specifically formulated to not freeze during colder temperatures, as well as an antifreeze engine coolant. It’s also a good idea to add fuel deicer to your more-than-half-full tank once a month.

Inspect the battery

car battery
Avoid driving with a weak battery during the cold winter months

Professional equipment is the only true way to evaluate car batteries. You don’t want a weak, old battery to leave you stranded in the cold, so it is important to have a certified mechanic check it out before the temperature drops too low. If it’s been a while since the last time you replaced it, it’s probably time for a new one.

Pack emergency supplies

Hopkins Talon Ice Scraper Hoppy dual blade review
An ice scraper and snow shovel are two tools you’ll want to keep in your car during winter
Photo: The News Wheel

In case you are stranded, or maybe just stuck in a long traffic jam, equip your vehicle with the items you might need. Store the emergency kit in the glove box where it’s easily accessible and the bulkier items, such as extra clothes and blankets, in the backseat instead of the trunk. Other useful objects to pack include the following: a flashlight and radio (with batteries), flares, some provisions, a first aid kit, boots, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, and a bowl to catch snow for water. An ice scraper and snow shovel are two other practical tools to keep in your vehicle. And you might also want to pack extra engine oil, coolant, and washer fluid.

Avoid getting frozen out

car door frozen shut ice winter handle hand grab
Keep lock de-icer on hand to minimize the chance of getting locked out of your car
Photo: The News Wheel

Always carry lock de-icer with you so you don’t get locked out of your car. It might help to keep one de-icer product at home and one at your place of school or work.

Read more about the benefits of getting winter tires for your car. Then refresh your memory about when you should and shouldn’t leave your windshield wipers up during winter.  

Cold-Weather Checkup: Schedule your winter maintenance appointment