Summer was wonderful, with its warm days and sunny skies, but — as the saying goes — all good things must come to an end. With winter fast approaching (it has a habit of sneaking up on you all at once), it’s important to get your vehicle prepared for the inevitable snow storms and terrible driving conditions. Since nobody seems to be able to predict the weather anymore, the earlier you get ready, the better! Here’s a simple checklist of the most important components you should get checked out before the Winter Warlock comes (probably aggressively) a-knockin’.
- Battery: Even if your car has been chuggin’ along successfully all summer, having it tested by a trained technician can prevent you from getting stuck somewhere on the side of the road, snow slowly threatening to bury you while you wait for a tow. Additionally, make sure you have the right battery for your vehicle — if you recently needed to contact emergency services and you purchased a new one right off the truck, it’s most likely not going to be able to withstand the icy touch of winter; those batteries are meant to be temporary, enough to get you on your way so you can schedule an appointment with your mechanic to buy a new one.
- Tires: If you don’t have all-season tires or snow tires, it’s time to invest in them. They may be costly, but they can mean the difference between a spin-out and a quiet drive — not to mention the fact that they may end up saving your life in the event you end up losing control of your vehicle on the road. There are sure to be a variety of tires for sale at your local mechanic or tire shop.
- Engine hoses: Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Your engine will not function if the fluids aren’t circulating in it properly, and could even up causing thousands of dollars in repairs as a result. Additionally, squeeze the hoses to check for any that may be brittle or excessively spongy feeling — they need to be replaced.
- Get a lube and filter service: Cold weather can thicken oil, depending on the kind your car uses, making it much more difficult for your engine to move. This can place stress on the machine and may cause damage down the line, so making sure you get a lube and filter service can ensure everything is clean, new, and that you have the right oil for the season. You’re supposed to get your oil changed every four months anyway, so this just kills two birds with one stone. (Just try not to giggle when you ask for a lube & filter service.)
Winter is the worst time of the year, but getting into a car accident or incurring hundreds of dollars worth of repairs can make it way, way worse. Avoid the risk by getting your vehicle serviced way in advance; you’ll be thankful you did it in the long run!