Preparing for the winter

As winter approaches, it's important for drivers to prepare for the dangerous and icy conditions that come with it. Nasty road conditions are inevitable, but drivers are in control of how they prepare their vehicles for these treacherous roads. Here are a few reminders for staying safe this winter.

Get the car checked by a professional periodically
No matter the time of year, a car should be periodically checked by a professional to ensure that it's up safely up to date. However, it's even more important during the wintertime as cold weather can make pre-existing conditions even worse. Drivers should be sure to bring their vehicles into the shop to get thoroughly checked before taking it out for the winter season — even if a car seems to be working fine.

Cooling system
According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, it's important for the cooling system to be flushed and refilled. When drivers get it checked, they should make sure that the level, condition and concentration of liquid are all being monitored — this should be done periodically.

If drivers are going to do this themselves, they should take note:

They should try to use a mix of 50% antifreeze and 50% water to get the job done. Also, they should make sure to never take off the radiator cap until the engine has completely cooled. In terms of checking the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses — leave this to a professional. A local technician can handle this.

Wiper blades
Wiper blades should be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on frequency of use. Those who live in a colder climate should consider using rubber-clad blades to help with any potential ice build up. On top of that, it's important to always be fully stocked on wiper fluid — running out at the wrong time could be deadly.

While battery power can only be tested with the help of a professional, ASE notes that there are a few ways drivers can care for a car battery on their own. Here are some tips:

  • First, drivers must make sure to wear eye protection and rubber gloves. This will keep them safe from any battery acid that might leak out.
  • Scrape off any corrosion found on posts or cable connections.
  • Check fluid level monthly if the battery caps are removable.
  • Clean all visible surfaces and test and re-tighten all connections.
  • Finally, always read the owner's manual first. Some newer vehicles could be damaged as a result of cable removal. In other cases, it can even cause a loss of data or codes.

Carry an emergency kit
Drivers would be wise to always have an emergency kit available while driving in the winter months in case they get stranded or caught in bad weather. An emergency kit should include:

  • Flashlight
  • Phone charger
  • Flares
  • Blanket
  • Gloves
  • Small shovel
  • Extra batteries
  • Snacks (ex: granola bars)
  • Snow/ice scraper

There are a lot of steps that can be taken to make sure tires are in top condition before heading out into snowy weather, according to the DMV. First of all, consider snow tires. Switching to snow tires, especially in areas that receive a lot of snow, can help to reduce overall slip and slide out on icy roads. However, it's important to note that snow tires should only be put on during the months they're truly needed, as they reduce a car's miles per gallon.

It's also important to always keep tires filled up with the right amount of air. Low air pressure can prove deadly on winter roads, so drivers should head to their local gas station to fill up their own tires or bring their car to a professional who can help.

Finally, it's crucial for drivers to get their brakes tested periodically so they can quickly stop on icy roads or in snowy conditions. It's recommended that drivers get their brakes tested before the first snowstorm of the year so they can prevent any accidents and also get them repaired or replaced before the cold weather.

Of course, having good brakes should be a concern year-round. Greening Testing Laboratories is a fully certified brake testing lab that provides a variety of brake testing services worldwide. Contact Greening today for a complimentary brake testing consultation.