On February 4, intense snowfall came to St. Louis, making the city’s roads and highways slick. Because the severe weather has made traveling very dangerous, schools and offices were forced to close. Driving under such conditions is treacherous, but it is even more so if the vehicle you are driving is not well maintained for winter. In case you haven’t done winter car maintenance, here are some tips you should follow now and remember for the next cold season.
Clear your vehicle of autumn debris
Clean your car of debris that you would also find in your home’s gutter after the fall season. Get rid of leaves and other organic detritus that accumulate in certain areas of the vehicle where water is meant to flow out from. If you allow these to build up, leakage and corrosion will become inevitable. One area in particular you need to check is the air plenum close to the windshield.
Check your hood, too. Some animals make their nests under hoods.
Get winter tires
All-season tires are popular, but winter tires are still best when there is snow on the roads. Winter tires are specially designed to keep you safe on the road through specific tread patterns and rubber compounds. All-season tires aren’t necessarily bad—they come with front wheel-drive and anti-skid features, after all. However, some types are less effective in snow because style was prioritized over design.
Maintain tire pressure
Did you know that tires lose one pound of pressure every time the temperature drops 10 degrees Fahrenheit? The extremely cold season can and will cause your tires to be underinflated, and underinflated tires make driving much more dangerous because your tires cannot properly cut through the snow.
Make sure to check tire pressure before every trip. See if you need to buy new valve caps. After checking, remember to put the caps back; if you don’t, the moisture that have penetrated will freeze and cause air leakage.
Winter can make driving difficult because visibility is compromised by fog and snow. Before you go on the road, ensure that you will be able to see when driving by checking your wiper blades. Consider ‘beam blade’ style wipers. This specific style is more ideal for winter because it is without external spring, which tends to freeze.
Turn off the wipers when you park. If you don’t, the wipers will freeze on the windshield and the wiper motor will have to work hard to get them moving. Hard work for the wiper motor can cause it to burn out.
Another way to make sure you can see fine when you are in the road is cleaning your headlamps. Remove dirt because its buildup will lessen illumination. Use car wax after cleaning, then let it dry. Afterward, buff it off. You can also do the taillights.
Check your battery
Check your battery and charging system. If you often park your vehicle outdoors in extreme winter conditions, there is a good chance your battery will not hold up for longer. Load testing your battery will not cost you a fortune; in fact, you can have it done for free. The sooner you find out the condition of your battery, the sooner you can have it replaced—and properly. You wouldn’t want to require battery replacement when you are already on frozen road.
Flush and fill (if needed)
Check your owner’s manual and see for how long your antifreeze lasts. In the case of new cars, the engine coolant can last for five years or 150,000 miles. If you have religiously followed the prescribed service schedule for your car, you may skip the ‘flush and fill.’ On the contrary, if you haven’t followed the service schedule as you should have, you may need to have your auto ‘flushed and filled.’
If you do get the service, ensure the mechanic uses a coolant compatible with your car.