Prepare Your Car: Get Winterized!

Another winter storm coming? Before you rush to the store for the last gallon of milk and loaf of bread, you'll want to be sure your car is ready to battle the elements. Follow these tips before venturing out into the winter wonderland.

  • Get a Tune-Up. Have your mechanic check your hoses, belts and anti-freeze. A weakened hose or belt can break and leave you stranded, or a weak solution of anti-freeze can ice up and damage your cooling system.
  • Check Your Battery. Make sure your car's battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free. The battery should be securely mounted. If the battery is three years old or more, have it tested and replace it if necessary.
  • Check Your Heater and Defroster. If your heater isn't working, you'll probably know. But what about front and rear defrosters? Before you're faced with a frosty windshield, turn your front and rear defrosters on and off to make sure they're working.
  • Give Yourself a Brake. If you have the slightest concern that something's amiss with your brakes, get them inspected immediately. If you have anti-lock brakes, you should avoid pumping the brakes if you begin to slide. 
  • Have Your Exhaust System Checked. Ask your mechanic to double check the exhaust system for leaks, which can emit dangerous carbon monoxide into your car. If you become stuck in the snow and want to run the engine and heater, make sure your tail pipe is clear of the snow and crack open a window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal.
  • Fill up with Washer Fluid. Slush and mud splashed on a windshield can spell danger for a winter driver. Make sure your washer fluid reservoir is sufficiently full, and keep a spare jug in the trunk.
  • Consider New Wiper Blades. Even if your windshield wiper blades are in good condition, you might want to upgrade to a rubber coated snow blade that can handle the extra weight of wet snow. They're not expensive, and could make your winter driving a lot safer in the long run.
  • Take a Look at Your Tires. Your tires need to have adequate tread with "grip" to propel you through the snow.
  • Fill Her Up! One of the best driving tips for winter is to keep your tank more than half full at all times. It will help you avoid freezing in your fuel lines, and will keep you safer in winter weather situations.