Winter is Coming-Is Your Car Ready?
December 13, 2018
It is now December and most people know it is a good idea to prepare their homes and even their wardrobes for the onslaught of winter. But not everyone gives the same forethought to their car or truck. But in fact, preparing your car now for winter driving can be essential to the life of your vehicle.
Icy winters in the Midwest call for plenty of salt on the roads. While it is a necessity for safety, road salt can contribute to rust and corrosion to your vehicle's exterior. Before the snow begins to fly, it's a good idea to wash your vehicle thoroughly and give it a good waxing, says Chris Brewis, Service Manager at Livonia Chrysler Jeep. A coat of wax will protect your car's exterior from both the elements and road salt. With all the products available on the store shelf, how to decide which one to buy? "Anything out there generally does a good job," says Brewis. It is important to follow the manufacturer's directions on the product. It is also a good idea to visit the car wash and get an underbody spray several times throughout the winter as well.
Your vehicle's tires are another thing to consider when prepping your car for winter. Both tire pressure and tread depth are important factors in winter driving. "For every 10 degree drop in temperature outside, you lose one pound of air in your tires," Brewis says. "It's very important to keep tires inflated, not only for long life of the tire, but for handling, stopping, and accelerating." As for tread depth, Brewis says any dealership or auto service center can check your treads and give you an exact reading.
The heart of your vehicle's electric system is the battery. "It's important to have a fully charged battery so you don't have problems in the winter with it starting," says Brewis. He adds that your battery's performance can be hindered by cold weather, especially if the battery is more than five years old. The average life of a car battery is three to five years. If the battery in your vehicle is in its old age, perhaps it's a good idea to have a new one installed and be safe rather than sorry.
Jumper cables or a portable battery jump box are also a good idea, says Brewis. Jumper cables will be useful only if another vehicle is handy. A portable battery jump box is extremely convenient, says Brewis, especially if you have battery trouble at night or if there are no other drivers around. Most are compact and will easily fit in the trunk or glove box. Just be sure to shop around as prices vary, but expect to pay around $100 for a quality jump box.
Keep your windshield washer fluid reservoir full. "There's nothing worse than going to hit your windshield washer and nothing comes out-and you can't see," says Brewis. Windshield wipers are just as important. Brewis recommends changing them once a year.
Don't forget to check your anti-freeze, also known as radiator coolant. "If your radiator coolant gets low, the first thing you do is lose your heat," says Brewis.
A seemingly obvious item to have in your car is snowbrush or brush/ice scraper combo. Clearing off your windshield is a no-brainer, but Brewis adds, "It's important that you get your tail lights cleaned off, you get your license plate cleaned off, and you get your headlights cleaned off." He adds that it's also wise to do the wiper blade area as well as the roof of your vehicle, as snow may slide down over your cleared windshield if you make a sudden stop, obstructing your view. "It's tough on blades to push that off," says Brewis. "You'll end up breaking a blade, possibly having to replace a wiper blade,"
All-weather floor mats can keep salt from ruining your vehicle's carpet and prevent water from getting down into the padding under the carpet, causing mold and odor.
Plan ahead for the unexpected and prepare an emergency bag or box to keep in your back seat or trunk. Fill the bag with a blanket, a pair of gloves, a flashlight, a small snow shovel, and even a flare or reflector to put on the road in the event of a breakdown. "I know people think it's never going to happen to them," says Brewis. But having these things on hand will make an unexpected crisis less of a crisis. A small 10-pound bag of kitty litter is also good to have in the trunk to provide traction if you get stuck in the snow.
If you're not a do-it-yourself type of person when it comes to checking fluids, tire pressures, and battery health, don't despair. Any qualified auto service shop can be of assistance. Livonia Chrysler Jeep is located at 30777 Plymouth Road in Livonia. They service all types of vehicles and can be reached at 734-525-5000 or http://www.livoniachrysler.com