With today’s flurries and yesterday’s treacherous slide home, my vehicle is at the forefront of my mind. I’m also thinking about the condition of other vehicles on the road with me. Driving conditions were so bad yesterday, there was no shortage of cars tipped over and slid out along the medians of I-25. Without windshield washer fluid, working wiper blades and tires with proper tread depth, the drive would not only have been 100X more miserable, but my car and I may not have made it home safely.
Colorado weather greatly affects our vehicles, requiring us to manage and maintain them in ways that residents in warmer states don’t have to. As with any machine, cold temperatures cause components to shrink, making plastic pieces brittle and more likely to break, seals and hoses more likely leak, tires to lose pressure, and batteries to weaken and cause no or hard starts. Preventive maintenance can reduce cold-related headaches and ensure safe, reliable transportation in sub-par driving conditions. When thinking about winter car care, there are some things you can do yourself and other things that may require a visit to the shop:
- Windshield wiper fluid. Make sure it is full! Slush and mud can make it impossible to see! Most gas stations carry this fluid (it’s usually blue). Pop your hood and fill up the windshield washer reservoir, usually located at the base of the windshield.
- Windshield wipers. Streaking blades can also make it impossible to see! Replace them as needed.
- Tires. Cold weather deflates tires so check pressure monthly and refill as needed. Make sure the spare tire is in good condition since tire failures are easy and common in winter. Proper tread and pressure ensures maximum dependability and grip on wet and uneven surfaces. You can check your tire pressure and refill your tires at most gas stations. Snow tires add extra grip on snowy and icy roads but can actually decrease traction on normal or wet roads so make sure to swap them out when the snow melts.
- Battery. A good rule of thumb is to replace the battery before winter if it’s been five or more years since it was last replaced. Or get it tested to make sure it’s holding a good charge.
- Heater/Defroster. For comfort and safety, it’s good for these things to work as best they can.
- Exhaust system. Winter is an especially bad time for there to be leaks in the exhaust system or floor boards that could result in exhaust leaking into the cab of the vehicle. The exhaust system should be inspected for leaks prior to winter.
- Keep your gas tank full. Doing so helps prevent moisture from forming in the gas tank. Water and gas do not mix well!
- Coolant and other vital fluids. As well as keeping the engine from overheating, coolant ensures the engine doesn’t freeze! Fluid leaks are more likely to occur in cold temperatures as seals and other components compress. Have leaks repaired if you see fluid dripping on the ground. Vital fluids that are too low will cause system failures.
Our Winter Car Care Special is specifically designed to prepare your vehicle for Colorado’s coldest months, so that you don’t have to worry about it.
And last but certainly not least, the driver behind the wheel should also be properly prepared for winter driving. Even among those who have lived in Colorado their whole lives, many people have never been properly trained for winter driving. Practice in an empty and secure lot or take a winter driving course to improve your skills and comfort with your car.
With snow on the ground, it’s not too late, but definitely the time to check in with your vehicle and make sure it’s road-worthy for winter.