Preparing Your Car for the Winter

By: Ariel Levy

Winter driving is different than summer driving, even in Beit Shemesh. Temperatures drop significantly, and we hope to have lots of rain in these months. No driver needs to have a breakdown, especially in the middle of cold or rainy weather, but it’s a lot more likely to happen in the winter. A minimal time and monetary investment can get your car into shape for the cold and keep you driving safely. To maximize your car’s efficiency and ensure a smooth ride for the season, here are some car-preparation tips:

  1. Have your battery checked; cold weather is harsher on the battery, so it should be in tip top form before the temperature drops.
  2. Winter weather can make any problem worse. If your car is due for a tune-up, take care of it before the winter starts. Slow starts, subpar performance and other issues should be dealt with now. A general service can make the difference between efficient winter driving and headaches that can put you in the shop when you need your car most or just don’t have the time for hiccups.
  3. Carbon monoxide leaks can be particularly dangerous during the winter when windows are mostly closed. There are often stories with unfortunate outcomes that could have been avoided had leaks been detected earlier. Don’t wait, get your car checked right away. As another word of advice, do not keep your car running for long periods of time in the winter while not in motion, which could otherwise cause carbon monoxide buildup in the car. If your car is idling, turn it off, and if you need to keep it on, keep the windows open. If you’re worried about freezing, see tip #9.
  4. A brakes check can ensure your safety. Even if you haven’t been experiencing any trouble, get yours checked along with your car’s winterization. Slippery driving can spell disaster for brakes that are problematic. Don’t take the chance of losing control of your car.
  5. Make sure that your car has sufficient anti-freeze. If you’re somewhat of a car novice, this may be foreign to you, but it’s really important – if you don’t have enough in your car, the liquid could freeze fairly quickly and won’t be able to flow through and cool off the engine, which could then overheat, another major problem that could compromise your safety.
  6. Before you set out on any journey, make sure you’re fueled up. You don’t want to run out of gas in the rain or freezing cold in the middle of Timbuktu, or the Israeli equivalent. Even better, keep a keg of gasoline in your car, literally for a rainy day – although if you’re careful to fuel up before you set out, you should never need it. One smart system is to never let your car go below half full. Even though you’ll be filling up more often, you’ll be ensuring a car that runs.
  7. Check your tires’ alignment, and possibly have them rotated. If your tires are fairly new, you can skip this one, but if they’ve seen a lot of days, it’s a good practice. When all four tires have been turning the same way for a period of time, they all develop the same wear and tear in the same places, making them more susceptible to diminished performance. If they can be rotated such that the tread wears differently on each tire, it keeps them fresher and helps avoid problematic behavior. More generally, check that there is enough tread so there won’t be any traction issues when the roads get slippery. With decreased traction comes decreased control of your vehicle.
  8. Change your windshield wiper fluid. Summer blends contain mostly water, but you might want to get a winter blend that contains more alcohol, keeping the fluid from freezing. Check what other winter fluids are available by your car service shop as well.
  9. Keep emergency items in your trunk and glove compartment. These items can include blankets, boots, gloves and other winter accessories, such as an umbrella, in case you have a breakdown or somehow get caught in the cold without a working vehicle. Keep that gasoline keg in the trunk as well. Water is always a good idea in any weather, as are jumper cables, and even more crucial for potential winter hazards.
  10. Check that all of your lights are in working order. With short winter days that have dark mornings and evenings, as well as many potential days of rain and low visibility, it’s crucial to be able to be seen under any driving conditions.

When your car is set for cold-weather driving, you’re set for safety, smooth functioning and season of great driving.


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