As the last days of fall fade, it’s time to prepare your car for colder, more hazardous weather.
Getting a jump-start on this task can help ensure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape before winter winds howl and snow and ice start to accumulate on roadways.
However, if you fail to take these seven simple — but often overlooked — steps, you might regret it once the snow begins to fly.
1. Not having your mechanic inspect hoses, belts and fluids
Winter temperatures can be pretty brutal on your car. If you have a cracked hose or a worn belt, the frigid air just might be the final blow. The last thing you want is to be stranded on the roadside when a blizzard is raging or the temperature is south of zero.
Do yourself a favor and have your favorite mechanic look over your car on a pleasant fall day. You’ll thank yourself come January.
2. Failing to repair paint blemishes
If you live in a northern clime, you know that Old Man Winter can apply a coat of rust to your shiny ride. If you hope to keep him at bay, it’s crucial that you repair little scratches before winter begins. According to the Your Mechanic website:
Paint blemishes, if they are left unrepaired, can not only make your car appear worn and old but can rust, corrode, or spread. That means more costly repairs that must be done by specialized body shops.
Fixing these imperfections can be easier than you think. Auto parts stores sell touch-up paint that you can use to keep rust at bay. Your Mechanic says you can find the car’s paint code on the information label on the driver’s door pillar.
3. Skipping a coat of wax
Road salt is an inevitable part of keeping roads safe for drivers throughout the winter months. But that salt can wreak havoc on your car’s exterior. A good coat of wax can help protect your car.
4. Leaving the wrong floor mats in place
Floor mats aren’t typically on the radar for most drivers planning to prepare their cars for colder weather. Yet, installing the right mats can help ensure the interior of your vehicle makes it through snowboots season unscathed.
The Wirecutter website notes that the right floor mat “better protects your car’s carpets from water, snow, muck, and other messy things that can get tracked into the vehicle or spilled onto the floor.”
AutoAccessoriesGarage.com has some helpful tips for choosing the right floor mats for your car.
5. Forgetting to replace the wiper blades
A heavy snowfall is no time to suddenly remember that you meant to change your wiper blades back in September.
It’s easy to procrastinate on this task, and millions of drivers do just that. But worn wiper blades can smear snow and ice, putting your ability to see the road — and ultimately, your life — at risk.
Many auto experts suggest changing your wiper blades both in the spring and the fall. And this is one repair that almost everyone can do on their own. Just stop by an auto parts store and tell the clerk the make and model of your car. Once you have the right pair of replacement blades, it takes just a few seconds to snap them into place.
6. Not checking your tires
Winter is the season when your tires need to be at their best. So, have them checked now, long before bad weather suddenly appears, to ensure they have the proper tread.
If the tires are in good shape, make sure they are properly inflated. And that goes for all your tires, including the spare. Remember that cold weather causes tires to lose air more quickly. So, check your pressure at least monthly.
7. Driving without an emergency kit
Ah, fall — you can sit on your deck with cup of hot cider and watch the golden leaves glisten in the autumn sun. While enjoying this reverie, remember that it won’t last. Colder days lie just ahead.
So, take a moment or two to jot down a few notes about items that you might need in the event of a winter emergency. Then, purchase the items over the next several weeks and store them in your car.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence recommends keeping the following items on hand:
- Extra gloves
- Boots and blankets
- A small shovel and a container of sand or kitty litter
- Tire chains
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- A cellphone and an extra car charger
- “High-energy” snacks in your glove box
Do you have other tips for getting your car ready for fall and winter? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.