The time has come again when the trees change color, the sun sets earlier, and days spent outdoors slowly become more and more infrequent. With the changing of temperature, scarves and light jackets become a mainstay in the wardrobe, too. And as you prepare yourself to withstand another winter, don’t forget that your car will need some preparations, too. Here are some tips to ready your car for harsh conditions so that you can squeeze out some enjoyment from the waning summer weather.
Living in Colorado means excursions. Whether it’s skiing and snowboarding, a winter hike, or just a weekend getaway, the mountains can be dangerous once the snow begins to fall. It’s important to ensure that you have the right tires for the right occasion. If you don’t intend to go off the beaten path, you can consider all-season tires. They transition from summer to winter fairly well, but keep in mind that they lack some of the features of more specialized, season-specific tires.
The best practice is to change all four tires at once in order to keep your car functioning its best. If you decide to forego getting new tires, you should absolutely make sure that the tires you are using have enough tread to keep you safe. Remember that you can always contact us if you aren’t sure if your tires are up to par.
You should also pay attention to your tire pressure, as it can drop along with outside temperatures. Keep a spare tire with you, and ensure that it also has enough air in it.
Check Your Fluids
Colorado weather is generally nice, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get fluctuating weather patterns from time to time. If the temperatures around you drop below freezing for long periods of time, it is recommended that you drop down to a less thick motor oil than what you normally use during the summer, especially if you’re driving an older vehicle. This will reduce strain on your car when you start it and will help keep the oil flowing throughout your car more seamlessly.
Take care to ensure that you are well stocked with the right coolant at the right ratio. You can check your vehicle manual to know which coolant to use as well as the exact measurements; however, the majority of cars take either a 50/50 or 60/40 ratio of coolant to water.
Don’t forget about your windshield wipers, too. You will want to keep the windshield washer fluid (ideally with an added de-icer mixed in) well stocked, as it is not uncommon to have rain, snow, ice, salt, and slush hit your windshield in one trip. Also ensure that the windshield wipers themselves are in good condition, with strong, uncracked rubber. If you need to replace them, you can also opt for a set that is specifically designed for winter conditions.
Remember the Battery, Belts, and Hoses
In the winter, there is never a convenient time for major car parts to go out. Colder temperatures can wreak havoc on a car’s battery, draining it a lot faster than it would under normal conditions.
Check to ensure that your battery is not too old (within two to three years old is ideal), that the battery fluid is at or near the bottom of the cap, and that the hoses and cables are free from cracking and general wear and tear.
If there are any fractures, however slight, look into replacing them. After all, you don’t want to risk being stranded during a particularly bad snowstorm for something that could have been prevented.
Although they should be a staple in your car anyway, if you don’t yet have an emergency car kit put together, it would be wise to get one organized before winter comes. As mentioned earlier, check that you have a spare tire that is in optimal condition, and then look into any or all of the following:
- A first aid kit, a flashlight, and an ice scraper/snow brush/shovel
- Tire chains and a flare
- Either regular or portable jumper cables
- Additional warm clothing, blankets, gloves, etc.
- Extra water and trail mix
- Extra washer fluid and motor oil
- Material to provide traction for tires (kitty litter, salt, sand, etc.)
As always, be sure to contact us if you have any questions about the winterizing process. We are professionals when it comes to preventative maintenance, and we usually offer a number of discounts. Remember, no amount of winter preparation can take the place of a cautious, in-control driver who takes their time and values their life as well as their fellow drivers’ while on the road.
Be safe out there!