As I’m writing this the forecast was for only a slight chance of precipitation, but winter driving conditions are here and can be harsh and there is no worse time for your vehicle to break down. A few simple checks and simple preparedness can help to keep your vehicle running smoothly this winter. These suggestions are taken from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the AAA.
Cooling System –
The primary function of the cooling system is to keep the engine from overheating. The system should be flushed and refilled as recommended by your owner’s manual. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. The AAA recommended protection level is -36 degrees.
must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.
Windshield Wipers –
Replace old blades. Rubber-clad (winter) blades will help to fight ice build up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you’ll be surprised how much you use. Remember to carry an ice-scraper.
Have checked for corrosion, cracks and dirt and to make sure it still operates as designed and then have it cleaned or replaced if necessary.
Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Nothing is more important than your car’s ability to stop itself and if your brake pads are worn you will not be able to stop your vehicle when you need to. You can check for brake pad wear by viewing the pads from outside the front tire. On most cars, you can look through the openings on the outside of the wheel/rim assembly to see the pads. If the pad depth is at 3/32 of an inch, plan on replacing it soon. If it’s less than 2/32 of an inch, you’re getting close to damaging the rotor, so do it ASAP. This varies slightly from car to car, but is a good general guideline. You can also tell if brake pads need to be changed by listening. If you are you hearing any type of squealing or raspy noises when you apply the brakes it is a good idea to get them checked as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Regardless if you have chosen to go with specialized winter tires you should regularly check tread depth and tire pressure.
While break-downs are never convenient, they can be particularly dangerous in the winter. AAA recommends carrying gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, jumper cables, first aid kit, a flashlight, cell phone, bottled water and a few “high-energy snacks” in your glove box. In addition, if you have had problems with your vehicle stalling, difficult starts or rough idling it is recommended to have these checked as these issues will become worse with cold weather