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6 Winter Car Maintenance Tips

car on the side of a winter road
Keeping your car tuned up can help prevent roadside problems in cold conditions.

Even if you think you’re a pro at driving in snow and ice, you should still take a few safety tips to heart. When the weather is challenging, an expert driver can find themselves in a ditch or worse in no time at all. Keep your car and yourself safe this winter with a few driving and maintenance tips.

 

How to Keep Your Vehicle Ready for Winter Conditions

Your car or truck may run fine all summer, but when the temperature drops, new problems can arise. In the colder months, you may have trouble with your vehicle starting, your heat running properly or even your exhaust system. Make sure you get these basics checked or replaced to handle ice, snow and below freezing temps.

  • How old is your battery? Cold temperatures can zap your car battery quickly. Have it checked if you have trouble turning over your engine, or if you’re not sure when it was last replaced.
  • Keep your windshield clean. New wiper blades, or ones designed for clearing ice and snow, can be helpful. Same goes with windshield wiper fluid, which comes in special low-temperature formulas that can also melt ice while clearing salt spray and dirt.
  • Protect your exterior from salt damage. Spend the extra time or money to get your car washed and waxed before the next big storm. The wax coating can help the paint from rusting under layers of icy slush.
  • Keep a grip on the roads. You don’t necessarily need snow tires in the winter, though some owners will change out their tires at the start of the season. If you live in town and don’t take back roads often, you may not need studded tires or chains, but you should make sure your tires aren’t badly worn and that they can keep you from skidding in snow and ice.
  • Check your fluids. To keep your engine working properly, either check, or have a professional maintain, all of your vehicle’s fluids. Antifreeze, clean oil and even your radiator (and its cap) can play major roles in keeping you rolling even in the most taxing conditions on the roads.
  • Watch your gas. Not only is it a smart idea to keep your vehicle full of gas when a storm is coming (in case power is knocked out or you get stranded far from the nearest service station), but for those who have diesel trucks or cars, it can be hard to keep the fuel from “gelling” in cold temperatures. Diesel owners should keep an eye on their vehicle’s “diesel exhaust fluid” (DEF) levels to make sure everything is operating smoothly.