Car Maintenance Tips for Winter Driving

Categories Car Tips

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When it comes to driving during the winter months, we all know it can be a stressful time. Ice, snow, sleet, rain, and fog are obvious winter safety concerns, but the hazards don’t end there. Some of the biggest threats to our safety don’t take place outside on the road, but under the hood, on the tires, and within the car itself. It’s extremely important to stay vigilant and maintain your car or truck. All the winter driving safety tips in the world can’t do anything if you don’t take proper care of your vehicle.

Cold weather can be the sworn enemy of vehicles. The hazards that come with the winter season are always looking to wreak havoc on your car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle, but there are some car maintenance tips for winter that can help keep your car on the road safely, and as long as possible.

Replace Wiper Blades

This is a must-do car maintenance task that, unfortunately, tends to be put off by a lot of people. Wiper blades should be changed out every six months to one year, but if you see that your wipers are no longer making contact with the surface of your windshield—if they are squeaking, skipping, or streaking—you should replace them right away. During the winter, this is especially important as visibility is often reduced during ice, snow, or rain. If you don’t know how to change wiper blades, auto parts stores will usually offer to take care of this for you after you buy some replacements.


Check Your Tire Tread and Air Pressure

Ice and snow are dangerous enough when driving, and it’d be even worse to add a blown out tire or skid into the mix. When it comes to car maintenance tips for winter, the tires rank at the top regarding importance. Check your tire pressure often, at least once every few weeks, and make sure that they are inflated to the correct PSI. If you are unsure of the recommended PSI for your tires, you can find it listed inside your vehicle’s door jamb or the owner’s manual.

In the U.S., the depth of tire tread is measured in 32nds of an inch, with some truck and SUV tires having deeper tread depths than smaller cars. We recommend that you replace your tires when the tread reaches 2/32 inch, but you should also know that some states require this depth by law. To check tire tread, a lot of people use the “penny test.” Insert a penny upside down into a groove in your tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then that means that the depth of your tread is less than 2/32 inch and it is unsafe to drive.


Wash Your Car

It doesn’t seem like a necessity to wash your car during the cold, wet days of winter, but at least giving your car a winter spray-down is very important to the longevity of your vehicle. During the winter, salt is often placed on roadways and intersections to prevent skids and slips. Whether you are on two wheels or four, when you drive on these roads, the salt transfers to the underside of your car, and, over time, can become extremely corrosive. Some of the most affected and vulnerable areas of your car include:

  • Hydraulic brake system
  • Subframe and exhaust
  • Coil springs
  • Muffler

To prevent the undercarriage of your vehicle from rusting out, visit a drive-through car wash give the undercarriage a spray down as often as possible. Be sure to get underneath the car to rinse the salt mixture away. This can also provide you with time to carefully inspect your tires or other vital areas of your car, such as the lights and bulbs, battery, and oil level.

Inspect All Hoses and Lines for Leaks

Cold weather not only makes existing problems worse, but it causes the material in your vehicle’s lines and hoses to harden. This hardening can sometimes lead to cracking or breaking in the line, and the loss of vital fluids. If your engine is not properly inspected and maintained, this issue can catch you off guard. To prevent being left high-and-dry (pardon the pun), give your hoses a once-over as often as possible and be on the lookout for weird engine noises such as hard starts, stalling, or rough idling. At the same time, check your car’s fluid levels often, and don’t put off refilling when needed.

Cold weather continually poses a threat to travelers, and we need you to stay safe out there this winter. So, with the combination of winter driving safety reminders and these car maintenance tips, you should be all set to take on the road without worry. Stay warm!


Photo Credit: Pixabay