Storm weather is unpredictable. Good car maintenance can minimize the impact of a storm on your ability to drive safely. Here are some suggested areas to check in order to make sure you are prepared when the bad weather hits:
- Make sure your tires are in good condition. You might want to consider buying winter tires instead of all-season. They are optimized for bad weather. In addition, check the air pressure in your tires. Temperature affects air density. Cold air is denser than warm air, which means the air pressure drops right along with the temperature. You aren’t going to have the same control when you drive, or get the best gas mileage possible, if your tires are underinflated. It’s worth checking regularly.
- Make sure you have a good battery. The cold makes batteries less powerful than they would be otherwise. You might also want to check battery terminals to make sure they aren’t corroded. Electrical power can’t be transferred as easily through corroded terminals as they can through battery terminals that are in good condition.
- Consider investing in a battery booster/jump starter pack as well as jumper cables. That way, if your battery fails you, you don’t need to find someone who is willing to help jump-start your car.
- In addition to making sure your oil is changed regularly, you should also look at the owner’s manual to find out what the right oil viscosity is for colder temperatures. Newer cars are designed to run on low-viscosity oil regardless of the time of year, but older cars need a different viscosity in the summer than they do in the winter.
- If your car is cold, don’t rev the engine. It takes a while for the oil in the engine to warm up; until that happens, the combination of revving the engine and cold oil could damage the engine.
- Make sure you have fresh antifreeze in your cooling system. Old coolant is more likely to freeze than new coolant.
- Be sure your wiper blades are in good shape and replace them as often as necessary. You need to be able to clear the snow and ice off your windshield while you are driving as easily as possible.
- Use washer fluid that has been designed for winter. The summer version will freeze in winter, making it useless. If it freezes on your windshield, it’s dangerous because you can’t see well through it. Just avoid the problem altogether and switch over to a winter washer fluid instead.
- Clear off snow and ice from your entire car before you drive it. If you don’t, you make it harder to see through your own windows, but you are also creating a traffic hazard when you start driving and the snow and ice you didn’t clear off becomes airborne, potentially hitting other cars. In some states, you can end up paying a heavy fine if you don’t bother to get the snow off your car before you drive.