As winter approaches, many commuters are mentally preparing for all that comes with driving during snowy and icy conditions. Unfortunately, pre-winter repairs and maintenance are often left to the wayside. In fact, research found that an estimated 77% of cars were in need of maintenance or repairs. Aside from peace of mind, taking some time to consider your car condition and invest in winterization can help you and your car through each and every commute this season. Here are just a few essential parts of your vehicle that should be properly prepared for winter.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration classifies a car’s windshield as one of the primary components of a vehicle’s safety restraint system. That being said, it’s also essential for visibility. Any type of snowfall can drastically reduce that visibility, especially when combined with the salt that covers the roads. Be proactive and make sure your car is prepared for the first snowfall by investing in new windshield wiper blades and wiper fluid if necessary. And of course, always keep a durable snow brush in your car — preferably one that’s equipped with an ice scraper. With the combination of safety and visibility that these features provide, even the most anxious winter driver can have confidence navigating through a snowstorm.
Tires are another major component of any vehicle, and it’s no secret that icy road conditions can wreak havoc on their tread, pressure, and overall condition. Investing in winter tires is ideal because of their enhanced strength and traction on the road.
But the benefits of snow tires don’t end there. While snow tires are certainly tough, they also give way as needed. Their rubber is softer than traditional tires, which allows for consistent flexibility in even below zero temperatures. On top of that, their tread patterns are designed specifically for gripping slippery snow and ice on the roads. They truly are an investment that can help you prevent ice-related accidents.
Any seasoned driver knows that a car’s battery capacity is substantially reduced during cold weather. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your car’s battery is running properly as soon as winter hits, if not sooner. The chemical reactions needed to provide power in the battery can slow down as the temperature drops.
“At five degrees [Fahrenheit], a fully charged lead-acid battery has only half its rated amp-hour capacity. On top of that, during cold weather, your engine requires more current from the battery in order to get the engine started. Combine less power output with more power requirements and you get a car that won’t start on a cold winter morning,” write Brett and Kate McKay on The Art of Manliness.
If you’re unsure about the condition of your vehicle’s battery, it’s best to take it to a mechanic to run a battery load test. This test determines whether or not you’ll need to replace your battery, and the service can also come included with some additional battery-related tune-ups.
Ultimately, equipping yourself with the knowledge to winterize the basic components of your car is the first step to achieving much-needed peace of mind on the icy roads during each and every winter commute.