Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter
Winter imposes shorter daytime hours, cold temperatures, and rough weather in the form of snow, sleet, hail, and rain. When you drive in this season, you can meet any challenges head-on, if you prep your vehicle beforehand. The following are a few tips to help you do just that from Community Buick GMC in Waterloo, IA.
Replace the tires.
If the seasonal forecast calls for plenty of snow, you can drive on it more safely if you have winter tires, which are made from unique compounds that stay soft when the temperature drops and have special tread patterns that grip surfaces covered with snow, ice, and slush.
Don’t swap out just the front or rear all-weather tires because these will cause them to wear unevenly and may present a safety hazard as they deal with ice and snow differently. Instead, replace all the tires at once and store the replaced ones. You can swap them with each other when warmer weather rolls around.
After you install your winter tires, check their treads by inserting a penny into a groove upside down. If you can see Lincoln’s head, your tires are too worn and need replacement. Otherwise, check the tire pressure and fill your tires with air from your local gas station or our Service Department.
Check the heater.
Your climate control system is all that stands between a pleasant drive and your freezing in your car, especially when you’re stuck in traffic or a storm for an extended period. Before the cold season starts, set the temperature to high and your fan to full blast as your drive your vehicle in a parking lot or uncrowded road. If you’re not feeling any heat or your fan is not working, you’ll need to take your car to our Service Department for a fix.
Inspect the battery.
Car batteries typically lose power when temperatures go below 32°F and may lose as much as half their capability when the temperature hits 0°F. The last thing you want to happen when you’re rushing home from work to avoid an impending snowstorm is for your vehicle not to start due to a dead battery.
In a protected and warm place, such as your garage, pop open the hood and inspect the battery connections. They should be clean and secured tightly. If you notice any corrosion, brush it off with a stiff wire brush, but only after you’ve worn protective equipment.
If you have a digital voltmeter, use it to ensure the battery voltage reads 12.4 or higher. You can also get free battery testing from battery retailers, auto parts dealers, and our Service Department.
Create an emergency kit.
Your vehicle may have a built-in emergency button that sends first responders your way. And you have a smartphone to contact roadside assistance if you suffer a breakdown on a winter’s day. However, despite your ability to summon help instantly, it may take some time for those rendering aid to reach you, especially if a winter storm is raging outside.
You need to create an emergency kit to stay comfortable and safe until someone arrives. Put the following items in an easy-to-carry backpack you can take with you if you leave your vehicle.
- Extra clothing to stay warm, such as mittens, scarf, hat, rain poncho, and a blanket.
- A portable shovel that you can use to dig your tires out of the snow.
- Ice scraper and brush to remove ice and snow from your windshield.
- Jumper cables that can revive a dead battery under your or someone else’s hood.
- Emergency triangles, flares, or signaling cones to warn other drivers of your breakdown.
- Basic first aid to treat any small injuries.
- Extra charger to power up your smartphone, which may be your only lifeline to the outside world.
- Fire extinguisher to fight a small fire.
- Non-perishable snacks and water to sustain you.
Take it in.
If you don’t have the time or skill to handle these tasks, the brand-certified technicians in our Service Department can do them for you, except for creating an emergency kit. Just let us know that you want to prep your vehicle for winter, and we’ll take care of everything for you.