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Eight car tips to prepare for cooler weather

Added November 25, 2020
Frost on car windshield

Cold weather brings challenges for drivers—and their cars. Winter is right around the corner, so now is the perfect time to finish prepping your car for cold, snow, and ice. Check out these eight tips to help get your car in shape for winter.

1. Inspect your tires

Tires are a big piece of maintenance all year round, as they affect the braking ability, handling, and overall safety of your vehicle. As the weather changes, tire pressure will fluctuate, so be sure to check your pressure and adjust it according to the PSI included in your owner’s manual. Do a quick check of tire treads as well, keeping an eye out for signs of wear and tear. Traction is crucial on slippery roads.

2. Check your battery

Look at your battery connections to make sure they’re tight and clean of corrosion. While you can typically see a white, powdery substance on the battery if it’s started to corrode, keep in mind that batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail. We recommend checking your battery now to help avoid the hassle—and expense—of an unplanned battery failure later on.

3. Top off fluids

While the weather is still mild, take some time to top off fluids you’ll need in colder weather, such as antifreeze. In the winter, your vehicle will be working harder to keep up, and these fluids will help sustain its performance. While you’re at it, check the fluids under your hood, including engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid. And finally, take a look at your hoses and belts to make sure they fit snugly and aren’t damaged, to help prevent leaks.

4. Test your brakes

When snow and ice begin to accumulate on the roads, a proper brake system is crucial to keeping you and your passengers safe. Regardless of weather, if you notice your brakes squeaking or grinding, they’re likely not working as they should. Brake pads wear out over time, causing them to make noise. You may also notice your steering wheel shaking while you’re braking. Ignoring these warning signs could leave you with an unsafe car and a large bill from your mechanic.

5. Keep an eye on your lights

As the days get shorter and darkness comes earlier, make sure your lights are working properly so you can see on the road—and people can see you. This includes:

  • Headlights (running lights and high beams)

  • Taillights

  • Brake lights

  • Signaling lights

Most commonly, a burnt-out bulb is the culprit for a non-functioning light. Depending on the location, replacing a bulb can be a quick fix that you can perform on your own. However, if the bulb is hidden behind a taillight or electrical wiring, it may be best to take it into your local mechanic.

Be sure to check the clarity of your lights as well. Cloudy or dirty lights can impact your visibility, and also aren’t easy for other drivers and pedestrians to see. If your lights look cloudy, ask your mechanic for easy cleaning solutions made specifically for car lights.

6. Replace the wiper blades, if needed

Wiper blades are an essential feature when dealing with winter weather conditions. If your blades leave streaks or bounce across your windshield, you’ll likely need to replace them. While you’re checking your blades, also consider replacing your washer fluid with a winter blend designed to resist freezing.

7. Test the heat

This may seem like common sense, but you likely haven’t been blasting the heat all summer long. As a result, it’s a good idea to test your car’s heating system before the temperatures get too low. A quick tip: If your car is blowing cold air, you likely have an issue somewhere within the cooling system. If your issue with the heat seems complicated, have your mechanic take a look.

8. Evaluate your car insurance

Accidents happen, even to well-prepared drivers with well-maintained cars. When that happens, it’s nice to have peace of mind with your car insurance plan. We can also help you find more ways to save on your policy.

Related links

Looking to perform maintenance on your car at home? Check out these five tips before you get started.

Have questions about car insurance? Take a look at our frequently asked questions. If this doesn’t clear it up, contact a Dairyland agent today.