The US Department of Transportation has statistics that show more than 70% of vehicles on US Highways have not been prepared for winter driving. Is your vehicle in that 70%? If you want your vehicle prepared what needs to be done? Listed below is a quick check list of things to have tested or inspected before the cold winter weather sets in.
Inspect Windshield Wipers
They have about a 6 month life depending on the exposure to sun and ice. It is important to make sure they are clearing the windshield properly for driving in the rain, snow and especially during limited or no sunlight.
Check Charging System
it is a good idea to have your battery, and it’s connections, the alternator and your starter tested and inspected for good clean connections. Extreme weather conditions both hot and cold can emphasize a weakness in the charging system of your vehicle. Most batteries have about a 5 to 6 year life span so make sure it is holding a full charge and if not replace it, so you won’t be left stranded.
Check Cooling System
The engine’s cooling system is designed to keep the engine at the proper temperature while operating. The proper mixture will prevent it from freezing in the engine even in extreme cold weather conditions, therefore protecting the engine. But it has to be at the proper fill level, at the proper protection level and at the proper alkaline level. So you want to fix any leaks and have the fluid flushed with new if it does not meet any of these levels.
Make sure the tires are properly inflated to ensure the best possible traction while driving. Make sure you have good even tire tread on all 4 tires – replace any tires that the tread depth is below 4/32 and if you have uneven wear you might need an alignment or have some worn suspension parts that need replaced.
Snow or studded tires are a good idea if traveling over any mountain passes. But a lot of times getting a set of chains that fit your vehicle will work too. Just make sure they fit ahead of time.
Inspect Belts and Hoses
When your vehicle is serviced make sure the belts and hoses are checked for any wear and tear. Signs of cracking on belts or hoses that are crunchy when squeezed can be a sign of wear that can cause a failure in more extreme weather conditions.
Inspect Four Wheel Drive
If your vehicle is equipped with four wheel drive it is a good idea to have it checked and make sure that it is working properly. Also make sure the fluid in the transfer case which is the four wheel drive unit is clean and not leaking.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Store some basic stuff in your vehicle during winter months just in case you get stranded:
- A blanket
- Extra Boots and Gloves
- Warm Clothes
- Extra Water, Food including Hard Candies
- Ice Scraper
- Small Shovel
- Windshield Washer Fluid
- Windshield Wipers
- Jumper Cables
- Tool Kit
- First-Aid Kit
- Spare Tire and Tire Changing Equipment
Being prepared for winter driving and having your vehicle prepared, can save you expense and frustration. It can also make any road trips much more enjoyable and safer for you and your family.
Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive, providing auto repair and auto maintenance in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at [email protected], you can also visit our website at allaboutautomotive.com.