Prepare Your Car For Winter – Winterize It

Alternative titles:

“Oh the weather outside is frightful!”

“Winter is coming!”

We recently highlighted the best vehicles for Seattle’s ski season, however, it’s important to know what to do to prepare your car (new or old) for the colder climate. It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner, and with that comes cold weather, definitely rain, and possibly snow.  If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to winterize your car!

Snow in the Mountains

Here’s a list of items to check or perform on your vehicle before the heart of the cold (and for those in Seattle – rainy) season hits:

  1. Tires.  Check the tread depth of your tires.  Summer driving tends to wear out the tread depth quicker than winter, and the last thing you want is to feel like you’re on a slip and slide during heavy rain or snow fall.  Furthermore, if your vehicle is equipped with low-profile tires, it’s time switch to either all-season or snow tires, especially if you plan to head to the mountains.  They provide more traction and can be the distinguishing factor as to whether you’re smooth sailing over the river and through the woods, or stuck fish-tailing.

  2. Wheel Alignment.  Most of you probably know what it feels like when your wheels are misaligned– you loosen your grip on the steering wheel and the car drifts left or right, or if it’s really bad, you find yourself struggling to keep your vehicle on its intended path.  Imagine this combined with slippery conditions— double-trouble.  Avoid the headache and get your wheels properly aligned.

  3. Fluids.  Time to check your fluid levels. If you drive an automatic transmission vehicle (like the vast majority of Americans), this is especially pertinent to you.  Cold weather is harsher on your transmission, and besides, it’s suggested that you change the fluid and filters every 30,000 miles for optimal performance and protection.  Also check your antifreeze, (aka coolant), which keeps the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temperatures.

  4. Wiper Blades.  Check your windshield wider blades, and if necessary, replace them.  They always seem to malfunction when it’s down-pouring, or worse, during a snowstorm.  It’s also a good idea to check your windshield washer fluid at this time.  As outside conditions worsen, you’ll need an abundance of fluid to keep your windshield clean.

  5. Battery.  Batteries lose power in the cold (ask anyone who drives an electric car).  It’s one thing to jump your car in the summer, and another when the temperature is frigid. Be sure to keep cables in your car should the need arise, especially if you drive an older vehicle.

  6. Service.  Do you have any “check” lights on that you’ve been procrastinating to investigate?  Get your car serviced immediately.  If you’re having car troubles now, you can be almost guaranteed that they’ll really surface with the drop in temperature.

  7. GAS.  Keep your tank full (and no, I’m not talking about increasing your intake of beans, folks).  Should you follow steps 1-6 and your car still breaks down, you’ll thank me.  If you’re stuck on the side of the road in inclement weather, you’ll want to keep your car running for the heat.

check lights

A couple of additional reminders – keep a snow brush, ice scraper, and for those in Seattle, an umbrella on hand; and your cell phone (in case of emergencies).  Though you can’t control the winter weather, you can certainly do your best to be prepared!



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