Winter is coming and along with it comes sub-zero temperatures, icy roads and frozen windshields. A vehicle breaking down or malfunctioning during the cold, harsh winter weather can be dangerous in numerous ways, but preparing in advance can significantly decrease the chances of that occurring.
With that in mind, here are some solid recommendations to winterize your car:
Buy Winter Tyres
As the image from oponeo demonstrates, the braking distance of winter versus summer tyres is significantly shorter.
Unlike their summer equivalents, winter tyres are built to significantly shorten the braking distance on snow. The grooves carved into the tyres dig into the snow and can grip slick roads. The tyre’s material performs best in temperatures lower than -7 degrees Celsius, which summer tyres cannot handle properly.
For these reasons, winter tyres are a valuable investment to inrease safety of winter driving.
Do a General Checkup
Before the extreme cold or snowing sets in, make sure to do a general checkup and tune-up of your car. Winter weather can magnify existing problems such as sluggish performances, hard starts or pings. Check and fine-tune all of the following:
- Exhaust system: Check the exhaust system for carbon monoxide leaks. This can be more dangerous in the winter since windows always remain shut during cold weather.
- Lighting: Ensure that exterior and interior lights work properly and that headlights are accurately aimed.
- Anti-freeze: Check the car’s coolant system for leaks, flush out the old antifreeze, and install fresh coolant. If the level is not at the right proportion, it can lead to overheating.
- Oil: Dirty oil can cause trouble in winter. Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals.
- Brakes: Brakes should always be checked prior to winter. It’s the most important safety item to a vehicle and they should be working flawlessly.
- Heaters, Defrosters and Wipers: Check these all carefully to ensure that they are all in working order. A non-functional situation of any of these could be dangerous.
- Battery & Electrical system: Cold weather puts additional demand on the charging system. Have your mechanic check if the electrical system is working correctly and that the battery is working at optimal performance.
Prepare Equipment in case of Emergencies
A winter accident could leave you in a precarious situation. Packing your car with a few essential pieces of equipment could keep you safe and ready for unfortunate or dangerous situations that arise. Here are a few ideas on equipment that should be stored in your car during the winter season:
- Rope: In case the vehicle is stuck in the snow and needs to be pulled out, always carry strong rope with a latch on both ends.
- USB charger for your phone: In case of emergencies, your phone could allow you to call emergency services, family or provide GPS coordinates of your location. With a car charger on you, you can ensure that your phone stays charged.
- Snow scraper: A necessary tool to keep with you, the snow scraper is required to scrape snow off the windshield and windows.
- Blanket: In case of getting stranded or the car breaking down, a blanket can keep you warm in sub-zero temperatures.
- Jumper cables: Batteries work overtime in the winter and can drain easily. Keep a pair of jumper cables in case this happens so you can jump start your battery with the help of another driver.