Cold Weather Car Care

For peace of mind and safety, make sure your car is ready for the freezing rain, sleet, snow, and icy conditions to come.

By FamilyTime


Unless you live in southern Arizona or Florida, chances are you'll be driving in some messy weather during the next few months. Make sure your car is ready for the challenge.

Time for a Tune Up
Anything that needs fixing should get fixed. Hoses, belts, spark plug wires, and water pumps should be checked by a reputable service station.

Make sure your battery is up to the cold. A weak battery may work in the warm weather, but come freezing temperatures, you may never get out of the driveway.

Check the cooling system. The antifreeze should be a 50-50 mixture of coolant to water for most regions. If you live in very cold climes, you may have to increase the ratio to 70-30. Ask the mechanic to check for leaks in the system, too.

Make Sure You Can See
If the windows are streaked or you're blinded by teeming rain or blizzard-like conditions, driving becomes extra hazardous.

Check the windshield wipers and change them if the blades are old or worn.

Winter wipers are great for harsh climates, but be sure to replace them in the spring with normal-weight wipers or you might eventually wear out the wiper motor.

Fill the windshield washer reservoir with quality cleanser. It should stay fluid in very low, sub-zero temperatures. Keep an extra jug in the trunk of the car and another at home.

Spray the inside of the windshield with an antifogging compound to help the defroster.

Carry at least one good scraper and heavy-duty brush for cleaning snow and ice. Clean the entire car - not just the windows. Roof snow can slip down over the windshield when you drive or fly off and hit another car.

Snow Tires
Many motorists don't bother with snow tires, believing their front-wheel or four-wheel vehicles are sufficient.

If you live in the snow belt, this is a mistake. Snow tires are the best defense against treacherous conditions. Make sure all four are in good shape.

Store your regular tires on their side, not on the rims. Replace the snow tires as soon as the weather clears up in the early spring.

Safety Supplies
Keep flares, a working flashlight and extra batteries, a shovel, and some sand or a bag of kitty litter (these last two for traction should you get stuck) in the car. An extra blanket and spare pairs of boots and gloves are good ideas, too.

Make sure the cell phone is charged and working.

Keep a can of lock de-icer at home and at the office.

Drive Defensively
This is always good advice, but never so much as in the snow. Drive slowly and carefully with ample room between you and the car in front of you. Sudden acceleration and braking can cause skids. Leave plenty of time and then take your time.