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8 Ways To Prep Your Car For The Winter Ahead

With winter weather just around the corner, here’s a quick checklist to get your car ready for the cold to come.

1. Check for Recalls

Is your vehicle safe to drive in any weather? Enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through NHTSA’s Recalls Look-Up Tool to find out if your vehicle has been a part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.

2. Get Your Car Serviced

Visit your mechanic for a seasonal tune-up and other routine maintenance. Ask them to check thoroughly for leaks, badly worn hoses, or other needed parts, repairs, and replacements. Also ask them to test your battery for sufficient voltage, amperage and reserve capacity, and tighten the battery cable connections.

3. Check Your Tires

Give them a once-over for wear and tire pressure. (They can lose pressure in the cold.) If you’ll need snow tires, now’s a good time to get them. Don’t forget to check your spare tire, too. Make sure each tire is inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which is listed in your owner’s manual and on a placard located on the driver’s side door frame. Contrary to popular belief, the correct pressure is NOT the number listed on the tire. Look closely at your tread and replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread. Tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch or greater on all tires. Check the age of each tire. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend that tires be replaced every six years regardless of use, but check your owner’s manual to find out.

4. Install New Wipers

Hard or worn wipers are a danger in bad weather. Think they can handle the snow/hail/road salt/miscellaneous debris they’ll soon be facing? If not, replace them. Consider installing heavy-duty winter wipers if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice. Also check that your front and rear window defrosters are in proper working order.

5. Check Your Fluids

Flush and refill your car’s coolant system, and top up your windshield washer fluid. Use high-quality “winter” fluid with de-icer. You can go through a lot of wiper fluid in a snowy or icy winter, so it’s a good idea to keep extra in your vehicle.

6. Test Your Lights and Signals

Check and replace your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights as necessary.

7. Feel the Heat

Make sure your heating system and window defroster are working properly. You’ll thank us when the mercury drops. If you live in a cold climate, remember to put the ice scraper, floor mats and the rest of your winter supplies back in the car.

8. Stock Up

Keep essential safety items like an ice scraper, blankets, flares, and a first-aid kit in your vehicle. (See our Winter Driving Safety Kit Essentials for a comprehensive list.)

And speaking of being prepared, don’t let a dead battery or another mishap leave you stuck in the cold. GEICO’s 24-hour Emergency Roadside Service is available 365 days a year, to help you get moving again. Best of all, it’s available through the GEICO Mobile app, so help can always be at your fingertips.

By Sam Song

Next article: Upgrade Your Winter Driving Skills