You can’t wait for winter weather so you can finally be reunited with peppermint mochas, snuggly sweaters and close friends and family. What you don’t want to be reunited with this winter? The actual weather part.
And we can assure you, neither does your car.
Snowdrifts and black-ice make for a winter not-so-wonderland when it comes to getting behind the wheel, but thankfully there are a few steps you can take to prepare your car for the tough road ahead and keep you from slippin’ and a-slidin’ all over the neighborhood.
According to Dennis Fallon, the owner and general manager of Pro-Trans Transmissions and Auto-Repair in State College, “There are a few things every student should know how to do to their own car. In fact, every person that is on the road today should know how to do this stuff to their car.”
With Fallon’s help, we put together this quick checklist to keep you safe on the road this winter. Take a look:
1. Check your anti-freeze
Coolant is usually red, blue, green or yellow. If it’s clear or has things floating in it, flush your cooling system and add new coolant.
2. Check your tire pressure
The cold temps can cause the air in your tires to condense.
3. Check your tire treads
If the treads are worn, trade them out for a new pair of the same kind or replace them with snow tires.
4. Check your fluids
It’s a good idea to do a thorough check of your motor oil levels, transmission, brake, windshield wiper and steering fluids. Your car’s manual is a great point of reference, but there are also lots of great visuals available online, too.
5. Check your lights and windshield wipers
Make sure all your lights are fully functioning and that your hazards are operational. As we said before, check your windshield wiper fluid to make sure it’s a brand that won’t freeze-up come colder weather. Replacing your normal wiper blade with a pair that can cut through snow and ice can also save you a lot of trouble in a blizzard.
Once you’ve taken the time to go through and make sure you’ve taken some preventative measures on your car, an important next step, says Fallon, is to consider what your local auto-repair shop can do for you.
Make sure your stickers are current and that you’re not due for an inspection. Also take note of any pesky check-engine or service-soon lights on your dashboard.
“If you have any check engine lights on or service soon lights, you should have it scanned to see what the codes are,” says Fallon. “If you have any operational problems or abnormal noises, go to your repair shop and have them checked”
A flashing light on your dashboard means that you should go get your car checked out A.S.A.P. But if any other lights are on that aren’t flashing and your car is running normally, you can wait a little before taking your car in for a check-up.
One thing you never want to do? “Fix your car over the internet,” Fallon warns.
“It’s okay to research things on the internet to give you some preliminary information so you can ask good questions and have a better grasp of the problem when you arrive,” he says. Think of a trip to the auto-repair shop like a trip to the doctors, but for your car. Don’t self-diagnose, and leave the decisions to the experts.
Don’t tell the people fixing your car what you think needs fixing or you could end up with some disastrous results. “If it doesn’t fix the problem, it’s not their fault,” says Fallon, “you told them what to put on. You want the repair shop to diagnose the condition and give you a recommendation.”
Staying safe on the roads this winter is always easier when you take precautions. Your car is your very own two-ton baby – handle with care and you’ll be dashing through the snow in no time.
Photo by Andy Colwell