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Preparing Your Car for Winter



Prepare Car for Winter

Winter is quickly approaching, and 21st Century Insurance wants to make sure that your car is prepared for the change in weather. Cold weather can be particularly tough on cars, although most new vehicles are designed to operate well in all types of temperatures.

Look below for tips to help prepare your car for the winter months.

  • Check the engine coolant. A car’s coolant system is not only designed to keep your engine from overheating, but it’s also responsible for protecting it against corrosion. Before the weather gets too cold, make sure you are using coolant that has the proper mix of antifreeze and water. You can do this by purchasing a tester at your local auto parts store.

  • Check your car’s oil. When the outside temperature changes, it will influence the internal temperature of your engine, so make sure you're using the proper oil for the conditions.

    If you live where temperatures get below freezing, you will want to switch over to thinner, less viscous oil. For instance, if you run 10W-40 grade oil in the summer, you may want to move to 5W-30 when changing your oil for the winter. Make sure to refer to your owner’s manual for vehicle-specific information.

  • Check the battery. A car battery can die without any notice. Extremely cold temperatures can reduce a car battery’s life by up to 50 percent. Before the cold weather sets in, have your battery tested by your local mechanic - especially if you have an older car. Also, make sure your battery connections are free from corrosion.

  • Check the tire pressure and consider snow tires. Tire pressure is especially important during the winter, as a properly inflated tire will help guarantee better traction in wet, snowy conditions. Make sure to read your owner's manual to find the correct tire pressures.

    In addition, you may want to consider buying a set of snow tires. Especially if you live in an area that sees a lot of snow, they’ll do a much better job than the all-weather tires fitted to most cars.

  • Inspect your windshield wiper blades and fluid. Visibility while driving during winter months can be a great frustration. Precipitation and salt buildup on the windshield can play havoc while driving in winter weather. So make sure that you not only check the condition of your windshield wiper blades, but also consider changing your existing blades to versions that are made for the harsh winter weather. Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. A harsh winter storm is the worst possible time to run out of wiper fluid.

Keep an emergency kit in your car.

If you don't already have an emergency kit in your car, consider putting together a few basics and stowing them in the trunk. Naturally, you'll want to be sure your spare tire is in good shape with all the tools to change it out.

But you might also want a few other emergency items in case you slide off the road and get stuck in a snow bank:

  • A flashlight, flares and first aid kit.

  • A blanket, warm clothes and gloves.

  • A radio.

  • A bag of abrasive material like sand or kitty litter for when you get stuck.

  • Extra windshield washer fluid.

  • A brush or ice scraper.

  • Extra coolant.

When you take the time to plan ahead, you can make winterizing your vehicle an easy, annual ritual that will keep you and your family safe.

(Sources: About.com; Edmunds.com; and dmv.org)

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