Preparing Your Car for Winter
From a mechanical aspect, winter conditions – wet, cold and icy weather – present the greatest challenge to your vehicle’s operating efficiency. Since these conditions cannot be avoided, prepare for winter by performing a complete vehicle checkup in the fall. Check, or have your mechanic check, the following items:
1. Electrical System
- Battery – Have your battery connections, alternator and drive belts checked as well.
- Ignition System – Damaged ignition wires, a cracked distributor cap or worn spark plugs can make starting difficult or may cause a sudden vehicle breakdown.
- Lights – Make sure all your lights and lenses are clean and functioning properly. Grime on headlight lenses reduces their effectiveness by as much as 90%.
2. Brake System
Have your breaks checked regularly and never delay any necessary maintenance or repairs. Many times squeaky brakes are a sign that brake pads need to be replaced.
Make certain your tires are properly inflated and in good condition. While it is best to purchase tires in sets of four, if you only purchase two, mount them on the rear wheels.
4. Exhaust System
Have a mechanic check your exhaust system for leaks in order to minimize the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your car is stuck in the snow and you have the engine running, open a window slightly and clear snow away from the exhaust pipe.
5. Heating & Cooling System
Make sure your vehicle’s cooling system contains enough antifreeze to prevent freezing in cold weather. Keep the mixture fresh by changing it regularly and having the entire system checked for leaks.
6. Windshield Wipers, Washer, Glass & Vehicle Exterior
Clean windows offer optimal visibility. An antifreeze washer solvent should be used in the water reservoir bottle.
Finally, it is also recommended that you have a winter driving kit in your vehicle.
The following items will be invaluable should an emergency develop:
- Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter)
- Small snow shovel, snow brush and ice scraper
- Traction mats
- Flashlight & extra batteries
- Window-washing solvent; cloth or paper towels
- Booster cables; warning flares or triangles
- Gloves or mittens and blanket
- Cell phone
Winter driving in Michigan can be tough on your vehicle. Doing a bit of preventative maintenance can help make sure you arrive at your destination safe,sound and on time.
This content is used with permission of AAA of Michigan.
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