By Alex Perdikis
You know it’s coming. Maybe you’ve already gotten a taste of it this year. That’s right – winter is on its way, and along with that comes making sure your car is ready to take on the coming cold weather challenges.
Make sure your car is ready with these five tips:
1. Change your oil and mix it right. As temperatures drop, the oil in your car thickens. If oil becomes too thick, it won’t keep your engine lubricated. In the winter months, your car needs a different oil viscosity, or thickness, to do its job. Check your owner’s manual for winter oil recommendations.
“If you don’t and you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, consider purchasing a set. Snow tires improve traction better than all-season tires.” — Alex Perdikis
2. Check your tires. If you have snow tires, now’s the time to put them on. If you stay with your all-season tires, check the tire pressure often. Your tires lose the equivalent of 1 lb. of pressure for every 10F degree temperature drop. Look to your owner’s manual to find the optimum tire pressure and keep it there for the best possible traction and maneuverability on snow and ice.
3. Do a maintenance and equipment check.If you have your car serviced, include an inspection of belts and hoses. Replace any worn or even slightly worn belts and hoses. Winter wet and cold takes a toll and it’s safer to begin with brand-new equipment.
Make sure your battery and connections are free of corrosion. If your battery is on the older side, consider replacing it before winter sets in.
Check your windshield wiper blades. Consider purchasing blades made for winter weather. While you’re at it, check and fill your washer fluid. Do not use plain water.
4. Check your antifreeze. In bitter temperatures, most cars need a 50-50 mix of water and antifreeze in the radiator. Check your antifreeze mix with a tester. Antifreeze testers are inexpensive tools you can find in any auto parts store.
If the mixture is off, drain, refill or flush and replace it with the correct winter mix. Follow all safety guidelines for disposal of the old antifreeze. You cannot pour antifreeze down the drain or leave it where children or pets might come in contact with it.
Again, check your owner’s manual for specific antifreeze recommendations.
5. Pack an emergency kit. No matter how much you prepare for cold and snow, it’s possible to find yourself stuck in your car for a long time. Pack an emergency kit designed to keep you warm, give you tools to help yourself out of common situations and food and water to keep you nourished and hydrated.
Pack the following in your emergency kit or your trunk:
- Extra set of warm clothes
- Small shovel
- Tool kit
- Water and snack foods that include protein
- Jumper cables
- Tire chains
- Spare tire with air
- Sand or cat litter for traction
With a little preparation, both you and your car will be ready for the winter weather ahead.
Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.