5 Basic Things Your Car Needs All Winter
In addition to your car being mechanically sound, we’ve identified 5 things your car needs in winter. Some of them might seem like a no-brainer, but winter brings on additional hazards to your driving safety. Wintertime is a pretty bad time to run out of gas or get a flat tire – especially if that blizzard snowstorm catches you stuck in traffic or spinning your wheels as you slide inexorably into a ditch. Are you ready for winter?
Winter Emergency Kit
Tire chains are optional, but can really be your best friend when driving on slick, snowpacked roads. Keep boots and an extra coat handy, as well as a hat, gloves, and blanket. A bag of kitty litter can help your car gain traction if you are stuck in a particularly icy or slick spot. Keep a shovel in your trunk. Pointed garden or flat edge coal shovels are good for digging in, around, and even under your car if you’re stuck. Flares are good day or night, as they call attention to your position and situation, particularly in bad weather. Keep a phone charger in the glove box. Protein bars, trail mix, or some other filling, high energy snack is a good thing to have just in case you become stranded. Pen and paper is a nice to have – hangman or tic tac toe are great boredom killers while you wait for the spring thaw. Or you can always pen that biography you’ve been meaning to write.
Antifreeze (AKA coolant)
Without antifreeze, the water in your radiator will freeze when the engine is cold. Even if you get the engine started, the antifreeze/coolant won’t be able to circulate and cool the engine as it gets hot. Also, when water freezes, it expands – which means it can crack your radiator and/or hoses. Not good. Do your car and yourself a favor and take good care of your radiator.
Keep your wiper fluid reservoir full. Check it or top it off every time you stop for gas. Don’t leave it to your memory or judgment (“I haven’t used that much… only one or two times in the past month…”). If you think of it, make a point of checking it. And use the lowest temperature tolerance fluid you can find so it doesn’t freeze and become useless. Some of the coldest days can still be the messiest on the roads, as salt and grime and slush can combine for quite a soup to land on your windshield as that semi passes.
Four of them, preferably. With enough tread to maintain traction on wet pavement, push through snow and slush, and not leave you spinning your wheels at intersections or on inclines. Stick a penny with Lincoln’s head upside down into the tread groove. If you can see all of his head, it’s time for new tires. Also check their pressure. You want to make sure they are properly inflated for optimal winter performance, because air contracts when it’s cold, which means it requires less space – which can cause your tires to seem deflated in cold weather. Your best bet is to keep your tires consistently inflated per manufacturer recommendations year round.
Last, but not least, keep your gas tank full if you can. Don’t let it go below a quarter tank. If you get stuck in traffic, or become stranded, more fuel means more idling & heater time. You’ll be glad you had that extra bit of fuel to get you through the rough times and safely home.
Don’t forget to use that credit card to buy a new ice scraper – not to do the actual scraping. Replace that old, worn out ice scraper and snow brush! It’s easier than replacing the credit card, and much more effective than trying to do it with your windshield wipers. That’s not what they are made for. You’ll look like a winter driving expert with your windows clear, like the snow never happened. Heck, brush off the hood, trunk, and roof, too. And your neighbor’s. If you get ice frequently, keep a bottle of liquid de-icer in your trunk. It does wonders and makes it a lot easier to cut through and scrape off that half-inch layer of frozen steel water mother nature thought would be so beautiful on a cold, winter morning.
Be prepared. Survive the winter. You will increase your driving safety and your chances of getting to an AAMCO (or home) where we can help with your total car care and repairs.
Come to your local AAMCO Colorado store for a complete Courtesy Vehicle Check. We’ll help you keep your car running reliably so you won’t have to worry about whether your car will start in the next cold snap, or if you’ll weather the next blizzard.
If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Colorado can help. You can also go online and use the AAMCO Colorado Ask a Mechanic feature to submit your auto repair questions. They will be answered by a real AAMCO Colorado mechanic as soon as possible.