Well, winter & those pesky cold months are upon us and, just like clockwork, old Mother Nature has decided its time for a nap. Now, if you live in a Northern state, like I do, or you're just concerned about cold weather, you may find yourself asking - is my car ready? Well, here is a short list of things you can (mostly) check yourself to see if you're good to go for a short drive or out for that long road trip to Thanksgiving dinner.
Just check these five things:
First: Check your oil level. Make sure you check the level with the engine both cold and warm. Look online or refer to your owner’s manual for additional assistance.
Second: Make sure your coolant (antifreeze) is the correct mixture, that the level is full and that the overflow area is filled to the line. You never want to open the filler cap when the engine is hot so make sure you check it when the engine is cold. Personally, I prefer to check with the engine running but you don't have to if you don't want to. If you do not have the correct tool to gauge the freezing or boiling point of your antifreeze, you can buy a tester for approx. $15 at any Walmart or an auto parts store. For convenience, most oil change shops or even a Tires Plus, offer this service.
Third: Make sure all four tires are filled with air to the correct point. Check to see that they all have good tread depth, that no cords (wires) are showing and that there are no bald spots. No one wants to blow a tire in the cold, worst of all change a tire on the side of the road in the cold. Good tread depth will help you keep control on cold surfaces in the rain, snow & slush.
Fourth: Make sure your battery is in good condition. This might mean the difference between a safe quick trip to your destination and standing alongside the road out in the cold, holding a pair of jumper cables.
Places like Batteries Plus can check your battery condition, free of charge.
Finally: Check your transmission fluid. Fill it up and make sure that the old fluid does not smell like a burnt pile of garbage. If it does, take it in for a flush and change. Remember that not all cars have a dipstick to check the transmission fluid so you may have to go to Jiffy Lube or Tires Plus. Keep in mind, some of these places charge for this service, so make sure to ask for a winter package or a group rate and you might get a discount.
And that's it! Five quick tips as the title promised. But, that means its time for me to sign off and get back to my day job.
Safe travels, and keep it on all four tires!