How to Prepare Your Car for Winter

Nearly 70% of the U.S. population lives in snowy regions. That means the majority of American drivers face challenging road conditions every winter that can endanger their lives. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration reports that every year, 1,300 deaths and approximately 116,800 injuries occur in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy roads. If your car isn’t in good condition, you could become part of the statistics.

5 Tips for Prepping Your Car for Winter

Winterizing your car helps it run smoothly during winter. Most importantly, it can prevent a nasty car accident. Here are five ways to prepare your car for winter.

1. Check the Battery

During cold weather, car batteries have to work harder, especially if the oil has thickened. That’s one reason they may go dead during winter. Test the battery and check that the terminals are not corroded. If the battery is nearing the end of its life, replace it immediately rather than risk it failing at an inopportune time during winter. 

2. Top up With Antifreeze

Antifreeze does as the name suggests — it prevents fluid from freezing. Most people tend to top up the radiator with water during the year and this dilutes the coolant. Adding antifreeze before winter is an important part of preparing your car for winter. When fluid can’t circulate freely, your engine will overheat, and repairing a damaged engine is expensive. 

3. Take Your Car for a Tune-Up

We advise taking your car for a pre-winter inspection and tune-up, even if it isn’t due for service. It’s vital that the brakes, tire tread and pressure, lights, belts, wiper blades, and defroster are checked and the brake fluid replaced.

If necessary, your mechanic will also drain your old oil and replace it with winter oil. At icy temperatures, motor oil thickens. Winter oil is thinner and flows easily even when temperatures are freezing.

4. Switch to Winter Tires

If you live in an area where temperatures drop below 46 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to switch to winter tires. Winter tires have a deeper tread that allows for better traction in snowy, slushy, icy, and rainy conditions. 

5. Give Your Car a Wax

Ask anyone who lives near the ocean knows how quickly their cars rust from the salty sea air. Driving on salted roads has the same effect. To protect your car’s exterior, wax it at the start of winter. Water and ice more easily slide off a waxed car. In addition, wash your car, including the undercarriage, regularly throughout winter to remove salt particles.

How to Drive Safely in Winter

To cope with the additional dangers and road hazards winter brings, follow these driving safety tips. 

  • Be alert at all times and avoid distractions.

  • Slow down. Plan to leave home earlier to allow more time to reach your destination.

  • If weather conditions are particularly rough, pull over and wait for the weather to improve. Better yet, if the forecast predicts severe weather, don’t venture out.

  • Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication that causes drowsiness

  • Take a defensive driving course. This is one of the best investments you can make as a driver. A defensive driving course equips you with advanced driving skills that include techniques on how to drive safely in bad weather. 

Aceable’s online defensive driving course follows state criteria and can be completed quickly and at your own pace. Winter driving will become less daunting when you know how to handle a vehicle in poor weather conditions.

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