Tips to prepare your car for the winter

Posted on: Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter is a notoriously dangerous time of year when it comes to cars. Whether it's battery issues or icy roads, accidents are waiting to happen at every turn. However, there are a few steps every car owner can take to mitigate these risks. Here are a few tips to make sure you and your car make it through the coldest months of the year safely:

Check your battery
Anyone who has tried to start their car on a particularly chilly morning knows that batteries can be especially tricky in colder weather. This is often due to a corroded connection in your battery. To avoid being stuck in your driveway on a snowy morning, check your battery during the fall. If you see corrosion on the battery terminal, you should bring it in to an auto shop to have it serviced. Also, keep in mind that batteries have a typical lifespan of between three and seven years - if you have an older battery, it may be on borrowed time and need to be replaced.

Consider winter tires
Whether or not you should seriously consider changing out the tires on your car to a specialty set designed to handle snow and ice depends largely on where you live. If you can reliably depend on your street being plowed shortly after a major snowfall, you will likely be fine on standard-issue tires. However, check them to make sure you don't need to have them rotated or replaced. An easy trick is to put a penny upside down into the tread of your tire - if you can see the top of Lincoln's head, it's time for a new set.

However, if you live on a street or in an area that doesn't get plowed regularly, it might be a good idea to invest in a set of snow tires. These tires are specially designed to give your car extra grip in slippery conditions. If you expect your conditions to be especially bad, you may even want to consider studded tires. If you don't have a place to keep your summer tires, many dealerships offer off-season tire storage services.

Make sure you can see
Of course, once you have your car up and running and with a firm grip on the road, you'll want to make sure you can see clearly out of all windows. Start by checking your windshield wipers. Are they in good shape, or do they need to be replaced? At the very least, make sure the blades are doing their job. However, if you want to be extra thorough, consider picking up a set of winter wipers, which are specially designed to clear away snow and ice, and won't loose flexibility when temperatures drop below freezing.

During the winter months, it's also essential that your windshield washer fluid is always topped up. Consider carrying an additional container in your trunk just in case. When buying the washer fluid, make sure you check the label to be sure it won't freeze - there should be a clear indicator of the temperature rating right on the label.

Make sure you're covered
Despite making every effort to get through the winter safely, accidents do happen. To make sure you aren't left with thousands of dollars in car repair bills, make sure you have proper auto insurance coverage. With plenty of plans to choose from, you'll be sure to find one that is in your budget. If an accident does happen, you will have the confidence that you and your car are taken care of.

Posted In: Insurance News

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