Winter Car Care and Driving Tips

June 1st, 2016

Preparing for Old Man Winter: A Winter Checklist

When driving in extreme cold, your car needs winter car care to ensure that it will start and keep you going through harsh weather conditions.

Autumn is the perfect time to get your car ready for cold weather driving. Because storms and cold weather can hit at any time, here is a basic winter checklist of items that, at a minimum, will keep you and your car driving throughout the season of ice and snow.

Also, be sure to check out our winter driving tips, as well as your owners manual for any other manufacturers recommendations and other car inspections or maintenance schedules. The list below provides a basic list of what to check in preparation for winter. See your Tire Source auto repair shop locations for a comprehensive vehicle review.

Antifreeze Check coolant levels
Belts and hoses are in good condition, not soft or brittle
Battery Battery load has been tested for weakness
Test voltage regulator; ensure battery is at proper operating levels
Battery terminals are clean and in good condition and cables are secure
Brakes Brake fluid is at proper levels
Inspect brake pads for wear
Rotors are in good condition
Emergency Kit Winter Emergency Kit  is assembled and in the car
Exhaust Exhaust system is free of leaks and/or holes
Heater/Defroster These are in good working order
Lights Brake lights are in good working order
Headlights are in good working order
Reverse lights are in good working order
Tires Check air pressure for proper inflation
Inspect tread for wear
Tires are suitable for driving conditions (i.e. studded tires for remote areas; chains for deep snow areas)
Transmission Transmission fluid is at proper levels
Check transmission filter and change if necessary
Tune-up Oil filter has been changed
Air filter has been changed
Fuel filter(s) have been checked for clogs or leaks
Windshield Wipers Are still in good condition (not cracked or worn)
Windshield Wiper Fluid Replace wiper fluid with specially formulated antifreeze solution for windshields

Minimize Winter Driving Hazards Using Preventive Maintenance and Care

Other things to keep in mind for safe winter driving:

  • If you live in an area that typically experiences freezing temperatures in winter, consider purchasing an engine block heater. Not only will your car start in the morning, but it will also decrease wear and tear from cold engine start-ups.
  • Check the battery terminal posts often. If corrosion is present, clean the posts with a baking soda and water paste. The battery terminals will foam from the reaction, and then rinse carefully with water, making sure not to douse the battery. Petroleum jelly can be used to prevent corrosion by lightly coating the terminals.
  • Antifreeze should be checked often, as fresh antifreeze will also prevent rust from forming in the cooling system.
  • Windshield wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
  • Lubricate the steering linkage according to the owner's manual.
  • Lubricate moving parts in your doors in order to ensure proper operation and reduce frozen parts.
  • Use a commercial de-icer for frozen door locks. Do not use hot water, as it will increase the chances of additional freezing.