Winter is coming. If you live anywhere in the northern half of the United States, it's imperative that you take the necessary precautions and take care of your car. Here are some tips for winterizing your ride before the cold weather sets in:
Hail and ice storms can cause your car serious body - and even functional - damage. Auto Trends found that the average cost of hail damage to any given Midwestern passenger car in 2014 came out to a total cost of $2,500. With this in mind, it's very important to park your car in a covered spot whenever possible. Most comprehensive auto insurance policies will cover hail damage, but only after you pay your deductible. Don't get caught out in the storm - find your car cover.
"When in doubt - check it out!"
Many people forget to rotate their tires seasonally. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, you should have your tires rotated before winter sets in, and regularly about every 6,000 miles.
It is also a good idea to check your tire pressure frequently. Especially if you are embarking on any type of long-distance drive, the last thing you need are improperly inflated tires while driving in cold conditions. If you are taking any long trips during mid-winter months, take your car into a reputable repair shop for a tune-up. Any issues you are having with your car (irregular noises, strange handling, etc.) will only get worse once the cold sets in. When in doubt - check it out!
This nearly goes without saying, but before you go driving around during serious weather conditions, make sure your breaks are working properly. Most brake pads start to squeal once they've taken on enough wear. The amount of mileage you will get out of your brake pads depends highly upon what types of driving you are doing on them. Heavy urban driving will typically give you around 8,000 miles before brake pad replacement is needed, according to Cars.com.
It's always a good idea to replace your car's fluids, as well as any consumable parts with expiration dates. According to the Car Care Council, wiper blades should be replaced about every six months, while antifreeze should be replaced every two years.
Check your car's oil - if you're getting close to needing another change, it's a good idea to go ahead and replace it before temperatures start to drop. If you live in an area that regularly experiences extreme cold, adding winter weight oil to your engine might be a good idea as well.
Any small chips on your vehicle's windshield need to be dealt with before the first big freeze. According to Gerber Collision, a windshield is 60 percent more susceptible to cracking once temperatures drop below freezing, and 80 percent more susceptible to cracking below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The windshield is responsible for roughly 30 percent of a car's structural integrity, and if compromised, can be a serious hazard in case of an accident. Make sure to check for and repair all chips in your windshield before the year's first freeze.
Take inventory of the air and transmission filters as well, and replace as needed.
Your battery should be checked and able to hold a full charge. A car battery's charge capacity significantly decreases - to about 50 percent its warm-weather capacity - during below-freezing temperatures, according to IBP, longtime battery manufacturer. If a battery is new but not able to charge as it should, the culprit could be the alternator. Iron these issues out long before winter - it's far easier to deal with an unstartable car when you have time to spare than on a cold morning that makes you late for work!
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