When a season changes, it seems like people are often more motivated to look for ways to make changes in their lives. We do things like take a course, start a weight loss program, quit smoking or buy a new house. While the changing seasons can make us rethink the direction our lives are taking, sometimes they can also nudge us to look after important details that can help keep us safe during the upcoming season.
That’s why fall is the perfect time to do some car and tire maintenance in advance of the approaching winter. Even if you don’t live in a climate prone to lots of snow and ice, it’s still important to look after your vehicle on a regular basis to ensure that it’s as safe as possible at all times. Consider booking a seasonal check-up for your car to make sure it’s in good condition for the upcoming wintery weather.
According to Pep Boys, there are a number of simple things you can and probably should do to make sure your car is in the best shape possible by the time snow falls. Some of these tasks may be best taken care of by your mechanic, but others you can look after yourself as long as you always consult your owner’s manual.
- Top up your vehicle’s fluids, which can help reduce the odds of a breakdown. Engine oil, winter windshield washer fluid, car antifreeze/coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, automatic transmission fluid/gear oil are all fluids you should consider topping up if need be.
- Check to make sure that your headlights and turn signals are in working order, and clean them up so that they are as strong and bright as possible.
- Have your brakes professionally inspected. They are most vulnerable during extreme temperatures like the heat of summer and the cold of winter.
- Have your exhaust system inspected. Leaks can be deadly if you’re stuck on ice or snow with the engine running.
- Make sure your battery is in good working order since winter is taxing on car batteries.
- Always make sure you carry an extra bottle of winter windshield washer fluid with you. Running out while you’re on the road can be dangerous if visibility is poor due to slush and precipitation.
- Check your tire pressure and tire wear monthly. Properly inflated tires extend tread life, improve safety and help you conserve gas. For more information visit Transport Canada to see a short video.
- Replace your tires with snow tires if you live in an area prone to snowy and icy conditions. Snow tires help you maintain control on snow and ice.
It’s possible that you could find yourself on the side of the road with car trouble even if you do regularly maintain your car, so in addition to keeping booster cables, an ice scraper, a small shovel and kitty litter or sand in your car to help you out if you get stuck in the snow, make sure you carry a winter survival kit with you—especially if you live in areas where it is extremely cold during the winter. The North Dakota Department of Transportation suggests that your emergency kit contain the following items:
- Warm blankets and warm clothing
- A source of heat, such as a multiple wick candle, as well as matches to light your candle
- Water and a metal container suitable for melting ice or snow to be used for drinking water
- A radio and flashlight with extra batteries
- Food, such as raisins, nuts, candy bars, dehydrated fruit, energy bars and jerky
- A folding cup
- Toilet tissue
- Bright red or orange cloth and a whistle to signal help
- Nylon rope to tie to your car in case you need to leave it for a short distance during a storm (so it can lead you safely back)
410219 CAN/US (04/15)