While our mild weather makes it attractive to many, it’s important to remember weather can be unpredictable regardless of where you’re located. Preparing your vehicles for winter and cold climates can be essential to the performance of your car. During the winter you don't have to drive very far from the Valley of the Sun to find yourself in the pines, and in winter driving conditions. Prepare for Adverse Weather Externally ++ Start with your car’s shoes. For the most part, winters in our area are pretty mild. Your all-season tires should provide sufficient enough traction to navigate the roads just fine. However, the tread depth, tire pressure and condition of each tire should be assessed to determine if you need to complete any necessary repairs or purchase new tires. If snow and slippery ice conditions are commonplace for you (Flagstaff anyone?), consider switching to a dedicated pair of snow tires, or at least a highly-rated radial designed to handle just about anything you can throw at it. They both have intricate tread designs specifically designed to deliver a better grip during slick conditions. Because of the constant changes in temperatures, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking the air pressure of your tires on a frequent basis. ++ Don’t forget about the windshield wipers. Not everyone will need to replace their windshield wipers at this time, but if you’ve noticed your wipers are performing ineffectively or they haven’t been replaced in awhile, it may be time to install a new pair. They’re crucial to maintaining visibility in adverse weather conditions, yet we tend to neglect them until we really need them. Prepare for Adverse Weather Internally ++ Consider an oil change. If the forecast suggests cold weather will be a frequent occurrence for the upcoming months, have the following checked and replaced as necessary: • Engine Oil • Transmission Oil • Brake Fluids ++ Replace your wiper fluid with a winter specialty formula. Not only is the winter formula specifically formulated to cope with the colder temperatures of winter weather, but the standard summer formula may freeze as soon as temperatures drop to 30 degrees. As an added bonus, some winter formulas also include de-icer in their mixtures. This is extremely beneficial when you want to clear a thin layer of frost off your windshield in a timely manner. ++ Replace your floor mats. While not as important, switching out your floor mats will help keep the interior of your car in impeccable shape. Special floor mats for cold or wet seasons have special grooves in their designs that trap and collect water, mud, and road salt. If you’re interested in maintaining the appearances of your vehicle, you’ll want to keep debris to a minimum. ++ Flush your radiator and replace your coolant. Coolant is inexpensive to replace and should be replaced frequently. Over time the temperatures from the weather as well as the temperatures within the car cause the chemicals to break down which can cause more harm than good. If you feel uncomfortable flushing the radiator yourself, schedule an appointment with us and have it done for you. ++ Check your battery and charging system. While your battery may perform as it should during fair weather, make sure you don’t get caught out in the cold when your battery decides to die or isn’t functioning like it should. Cold weather conditions can be very hard on batteries. Assemble an Emergency Kit You may think that you’ll never be stranded alongside the road somewhere, but why take the risk? Putting together an emergency kit will ensure your safety and survival if you’re stranded for more than a few minutes. Keep the following on hand:
- A snow scraper - this should be kept somewhere where you can easily locate it when needed. Don’t stick it in the back of your trunk, somewhere to be forgotten.
- A snow shovel - if you have room in the back of your vehicle for one, by all means purchase a snow shovel just for emergencies and keep it in your car. You never know when you’ll need one and the shovel may be enough to help you get out of some tricky situations.
- Cat litter - sometimes your situation will warrant the use of cat litter (for traction) to get out of a sticky bind. If you’re stuck because your tires don’t seem to have enough traction, try sprinkling some cat litter near and around the tire.
- A sleeping bag - hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but in case you do, it’s better to be safe and warm than sorry.
- A first aid kit/emergency kit - these are easy to locate and are frequently sold in stores including your local auto parts store. A well-maintained emergency kit will include flares, flashlights, a survival blanket, and everything else you need to survive when you’re stranded.
Conclusion While most people hesitate or drag their feet when it comes to winter maintenance, it should be one of the key areas you pay attention to prevent damages occurring to your vehicle and accidents, which could have been avoided. Bring your car in today for a free winter-ready inspection!