Depending on where you live, winter weather takes on different forms. From severe cold snaps to polar vortexes and blizzards, there's a lot to consider. This MasterKit will help you prepare for winter in all its forms, so you can keep your home, car and family protected.
By preparing your car before the temperature drops and flakes start to fall, you can help prevent damage and reduce the risk of stressful breakdowns throughout the winter.
Winter can be a treacherous time on the road, especially for drivers who head into the season unprepared. Don't take chances - here's how to get your vehicle ready before an extreme cold snap or blizzard hits.
At Least One Week Before Wintry Weather
Take your car to a mechanic and check out the following: battery, antifreeze level, thermostat, transmission fluid, heater, brakes, and defroster.
Get an oil change: It's a good idea to start the winter with clean, fresh oil in the engine.
Make sure your tires have adequate tread. Place a penny headfirst into the tread, and if you can see the top of Lincoln's head, you need new tires.
If you'll be using snow chains, make sure they're in good condition, and practice putting them on and taking them off. Read our article on snow tires, chains and other traction devices to determine if you should swap your regular tires for snow tires.
If you use an engine block heater, plug it in and make sure it's working. Have it repaired or replaced if it isn't.
If you've been experiencing any minor issues with your car's performance, like the engine idling too slowly or hesitating to start, have a mechanic take a look. You don't want to take a chance on being stranded in cold weather.
Wash and wax your car to help prevent damage to the body and paint job, being sure to thoroughly cover areas that will come into contact with sand and salt from the road.
Two to Three Days Before Wintry Weather
Visually inspect your vehicle's lights. Make sure the front and rear lights work, especially the flashing hazard lights. If they don't, stop by an auto parts store for new bulbs.
Swap your windshield washer fluid with a formula that won't freeze in frigid conditions. Make sure the spray nozzles are clear. If they're blocked, clean them out using needle-nose pliers, an old toothbrush, a pin, or a thin piece of wire. Once they're almost clear, you can finish the job with a can of compressed air.
Replace your wiper blades with a fresh pair of winter blades, which will better withstand very low temperatures and remove frozen precipitation.
Put together a safety kit and stow it in the car.
The Day Before Wintry Weather
Confirm that your snow chains, safety kit, and windshield scraper are all in the car.
Top off your gas tank with fuel.
During Wintry Weather
Keep an eye on your tire pressure, which can drop in cold weather.
Completely clear the windshield and windows of ice and snow before driving. Clear snow accumulation from the hood, roof, and trunk as well.
From time to time, be sure to clean the headlamps of your car with glass cleaner, soap and water, or toothpaste. You can also clean cloudy headlights with auto body wax and polish, but be mindful that these tend to work best on headlamps made of glass. Plastic lenses run the risk of being fogged by waxes.
Whenever there's a break in the weather, and again when winter is over, wash the road salt from your car and use a high-pressure spray to clean out the undercarriage. Touch up the wax as you're able as well. When spring returns, you'll have less to do to get your car looking (and running) its best for summer.