Get Winter-Ready With Our Vehicle Safety & Maintenance Checklist
Winter begins the 21st of this year and doesn’t officially end until March 19th of 2020. Between now and the beginning of winter, the days will start to grow shorter, the nights will get colder, and you’ll have to make a few changes to your daily routine in response to the winter.
Knowing all this - are you prepared?
Maybe you haven’t broken out your winter clothing yet, put plastic on the windows, or even gotten in the holiday spirit. Winter preparation does not end in the house, and acknowledging this will get you on track for preparation. You will need to make winter readiness changes to your car. Not knowing where to start on car winter-readiness can delay the process more than you might want.
You don’t have to risk the safety of yourself and others by postponing the winterization of your car.
Follow this handy vehicle safety and maintenance checklist, and you’ll be safer than ever this winter.
1) Prepare your road emergency kit.
All cars should have road emergency kits, regardless of the time of year. If your vehicle doesn’t have a road emergency kit, start your winter preparedness by compiling one. In the kit you should include:
- A snow shovel and cat litter (or sand) in case you get stuck in the snow
- Jumper cables and a battery charging unit
- An extra set of winter clothing, including warm socks, a hat, gloves, and scarf
- A blanket
- Extra drinking water
- Some non-perishable food items
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- Road flares
- A first aid kit
- A basic toolkit
- Paper towels, cloth rags, and/or toilet paper
- Warning devices, such as road flares or safety triangles
- Hand and feet warmers
- A tire pressure gauge
- Chains for snow
2) Make sure your battery is charged and you have a way to charge in case it dies.
Car batteries are more apt to die during the winter when the temperature drops. This has less to do with the winter weather than it does to do with the damage the battery took during the summer. Hot weather, which Kansas City is known for in the summer, can cause corrosion of the battery. However, it takes less power to start a battery in warm weather, so many times, battery damage goes unnoticed. In the winter, on the other hand, oil becomes thicker due to the colder temperatures, and the battery itself has lower cranking power - making it harder to turn on.
To avoid any issues, take your car to a mechanic to get the battery tested, whether it’s a new or a used car like you might get at one of our buy here pay here lots. Follow any recommended maintenance steps from your mechanic. Then, purchase jumper cables and a battery charger if you don’t already have them. If you do, be sure to test the battery charging system, as well.
3) Check your tires, place tire preparedness items in your car, and switch over to winter tires.
If you haven’t checked your tires at all during the year, now is the time to do so. Having a simple tire pressure gauge will be your best friend in this instance. Use the gauge to check the pressure in your tires, and refer to your manual to see how much air your tires need. Next, check the tread on your tires. If you notice wear or low tread, take your car to the mechanic and ask them to replace the tires.
Snow is rough to drive in, even with brand new tires. As well as checking the pressure on your tires and making sure the tread is up to snuff, we recommend switching your tires over to a set of all-weather tires or a set of snow tires. These types of tires will help your car maintain traction even on the slickest of roads. Even with those tires, be sure to have a set of tire chains in the back of your vehicle, in case conditions get extreme.
4) Have your brakes professionally checked.
If you’ve purchased a buy here pay here car from us before, you know that your vehicle has had its brakes checked at least once in its lifetime. This is an essential service most car dealers will provide for the cars they sell. However, it is not enough to base the safety of your brakes on these initial checks alone.
Before the snow flies and the ice becomes too thick, take your car to a trusted mechanic to have them check out your brakes. Being able to brake well will allow you to avoid accidents to the best of your ability.
If your brakes passed the test, remember this - on slick roads, think ahead. If you see a car braking in the distance, pump your brakes. Slamming on the brakes on slippery surfaces increases the likelihood of hydroplaning, fishtailing, and going off the road.
5) Check everything under the hood and bring it to a professional if you have any questions.
The winter is as hard on cars as it is on people, so doing the best preparation possible will keep your vehicle up and running during a harsh winter.
- Check all the fluids, including oil and coolant, and refill or replace as necessary.
- Look for cracks in any of the belts under your hood and get them replaced if you see a crack. Winter’s lack of moisture can be particularly hard on belts, so catching breaks before belts get more brittle is crucial.
- Check the hoses. Like belts, the winter can make hoses more brittle, causing cracks and holes.
- Clean up your battery. Even if your battery is determined to be in good health, you’ll want to keep it clean. Check the terminals for signs of corrosion. Safely clean and lubricate the terminals before placing the cables back on their respective terminals.
6) Learn to let go.
Missouri winters are almost as hard as the summers. Sometimes, all the prevention and maintenance in the world cannot make up for the fact that we all sometimes need new cars to be safe during the winter.
People living in the greater Kansas City area who are also in need of new cars should consider visiting a buy here pay here shop, like Auto Bank of Kansas City. Buy here pay here vehicles offer payment flexibility for when you need a car before the snow flies.