Though we are lucky enough to live in sunny Southern California, where the weather is ALWAYS beautiful, the rest of the country does have to endure some pretty drastic changes when making the transition from summer to winter. We know that this time of year may be quite dreadful, but in all of your preparations don’t forget to get your vehicles ready for the horrid winter ahead. Otherwise, prepare to find yourself stuck at home or even on the side of the road somewhere.
Here is a sort of check list that you can refer to so that you are sure that you’ve hit all of the items on your vehicles “Physical” check-up.
No One Likes a Flat
You’ll do well to start out by giving your tires the coin test. Put a quarter into the grooves on several parts of your tires. If at least part of George Washington’s head is always covered, you have more than an eighth of an inch of tread depth. Most states consider tires with less than one-sixteenth of an inch of tread to be legally worn down too far.
Now let’s do the air pressure in the tires. Other than seeing a flat tire when the pressure is really low, there is no real way to “eyeball” this test. You’ll need a tire gauge and your car’s owner’s manual to tell you where the pressure should be. The tire pressure is very important because heat can cause pressure to build up if the tire is underinflated and cause a blowout. Underinflated tires will also cause a loss in precious MPG and wear the tire down quicker. Also, tires tend to loose pressure in the cold since air contracts in these conditions. Measuring the tire pressure should be done when the tire is cold to prevent from miss-reading due to heat expansion of the air. It’s possible the requirements will be different for front and back tires. If the pressure is low, go to a gas station and add air.
*Note – driving with overinflated tires is also dangerous.
Remember, when you’re checking tires, to include your spare. It won’t do you any good to put the spare on if it isn’t in working order.
Finally, rotating the tires will extend the life of your tires, so don’t forget to do that as well.
Don’t be a dip-stick:
Obviously making sure you change your oil at regular intervals should always be top of mind in any season. But remember, there’s more to an oil change than just changing the oil. You’ll also want to check the levels of your brake fluid, transmission fluid, and your antifreeze.
Fall and winter are the seasons when you’ll need your windshield wipers the most. Make sure that they have good integrity and if not, change them to make sure your windshield stays clear of dirt, mud, snow and ice. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got plenty of wiper fluid, too, and that it has a low freezing point.
Check to make sure your headlights, taillights, brake lights, signal lights, and flashers work properly. It will get dark much earlier now, so chances are you will be doing some pretty heavy driving at night or in lower light.
Perhaps the most important thing to check is the heater! You don’t want to get caught in the cold weather with no heater in your car.
Check the battery plugs to make sure that they are firmly secured and not corroded or damaged. Also check your dashboard to make sure that the battery is charged enough. The drop in temperature makes the chemical reactions that generate electricity in the batteries to slow down, so a strong battery heading into the winter is a definite must.
Of course whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Even if you’ve taken all these precautions and have Sherman Tank for a vehicle, you could get caught in an icy situation as the weather gets colder. Review your emergency kit to make sure it has the proper supplies, or put one together if you don’t have one.
Here are some things to include.
·Bottled water and high-energy snacks
·A jack and spare tire
·An ice scraper
·A first aid kit
·Pocket knife or Swiss Army Knife
·Your Choice of Hard Liquor*(in case you have a very long wait for help)
*Only if you won’t be driving anymore and if you are of age, of course…
There are other items you can include as they apply to your location or situation, such as medicines. But the important thing is to be prepared for the worst that can happen. That way, you can handle any smaller problems that occur along the way.