Take Time Now to Prepare Your Vehicle for Upcoming Winter Driving Conditions With These Tips
Image: Pixabay

Take Time Now to Prepare Your Vehicle for Upcoming Winter Driving Conditions With These Tips

Colder weather means winter driving conditions and time for you to perform a tune-up and conduct routine maintenance on your vehicle

December 5, 2019

With the winter driving season upon us, now is the time to take precautionary measures to ensure that your vehicle is in optimal driving condition and properly equipped, especially for inclement weather. In particular, it's time for a tune-up if one hasn't been performed and to make sure your tires are in top shape, that windshield wipers clean well, and that windshield defrosters work properly.

routine maintenance

Visit your mechanic for a safety inspection if one is due and address any routine maintenance you've been putting off. Have your vehicle checked thoroughly for fluid leaks and any other needed parts, repairs, or replacements.

Starting and Charging system

Have your starting system and battery checked for sufficient voltage. When the temperature drops, so does power. Be aware that it takes more cranking power to start your vehicle in cold weather. Also, be sure the connections are properly tightened and free of corrosion. If necessary, clean them with a solution of baking soda and water. Replace any components that are damaged or failing.

Engine Coolant

Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle and that it's designed to withstand the winter temperatures you might experience in your area. A 50/50 mix of coolant to water is sufficient for most regions of the country. See your vehicle owner's manual for specific recommendations. If your vehicle requires coolant changes and one has not been performed, you should have it performed now. Over time, the rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down and become ineffective. Coolant may need to be refreshed periodically to remove dirt and rust particles that can clog the cooling system and cause it to fail.


Make sure your windshield wipers and defrosters are working properly. Windshield wipers have a useful life of only about three to six months on average. Refill the windshield washer reservoir as needed with high-quality washer fluid designed to withstand freezing temperatures.


Check your tire tread depth and replace any tires below the safe limit for your state. Make sure you are using a tire appropriate for the driving conditions you may encounter. If you regularly encounter severe winter driving conditions, you may consider a dedicated winter/snow tire for optimum traction. Regularly check the tire pressure and make sure each tire is filled to the recommended inflation pressure, which is listed on a placard located on the driver's side doorjamb or rear edge of the door.

During Winter Weather

  • Before you drive, remove snow and ice from all of your vehicle's windows and mirrors and keep them clean to maintain the best visibility. Also, be sure to clear snow and ice from your vehicle's roof and hood to ensure good visibility for both you and following motorists. Clumps of ice and snow that fall back to other vehicles while driving can be deadly.
  • Stock your vehicle with essentials in the event of an emergency, including a snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices (flares, reflective markers, etc.) and blankets.
  • If road conditions are hazardous, wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out.
  • If you become stranded, don't run your car for long periods with the windows up or in an enclosed space to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only long enough to stay warm.