Do I Need to Prepare My Car for Winter?


The first major snowfall occurred over the past weekend for the midwest. People spent yesterday and today shoveling out so they can get to work. They prepared for the event by purchasing salt and snowblowers. Did they prepare their cars?

Modern cars don’t need winterization the way older cars did. But they do need to have some attention paid to them to ensure they work all winter.

First, check the battery. Your local auto parts store has a battery checker. Your local auto parts store typically checks batteries for free. There’s no reason to not make sure yours is working as designed.

If it’s not working, replace it. You don’t want stranded in the middle of nowhere because your car won’t start.

Next, you’ll want to check your car’s cooling system. If you have only water in the system, you’ll want to replace it with a mixture of antifreeze.

New cars come with an antifreeze mixture from the factory. If you do live in extreme climates check with your mechanic to make sure it’s up to par.

If you haven’t changed your oil in awhile, do that. Not because you need to before winter, but just because you should follow an oil change regime.

The biggest winter issue you’ll have pertains to tires. No matter what type of car you have, winter tires are a solid investment.

If you have a rear-wheel drive car, winter tires are a must. With the winter tires, you can drive around all season without issues. In most cases, you don’t need to replace the car or drive something else if you have winter tires.

If you have a front-wheel drive car, all-season tires are usually fine. Snow tires are always the best, but aren’t as necessary as they are on other cars.

If you live in a place that requires snow tires, then you don’t have a choice but to buy them for your car or truck.

People seem to prefer all-wheel drive in the winter, but it’s not necessary. If you do have all-wheel drive, that doesn’t mean you don’t need snow tires but again, they’re less of an issue.

Snow tires are something we always recommend. They improve traction. They also improve steering and braking. Your all-wheel drive car might speed up well on snow, but stopping is a different story.

Inside your cars, its’ a good idea to have a bag of sand. If you do get stuck somewhere, the sand will help you get traction. It’ll save you from having to call a tow truck or freeze to death in the wilderness.

Also make sure you have extra warm clothing and blankets in the car. There’s no need to go crazy, but again you don’t want to freeze to death if you get stuck.

We’d also recommend having a battery backup combined with a car jump starter. This is one of many you can find online. It’ll help start your car in the cold, plus it’ll also charge your phone if it dies. We’re not trying to freak you out, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare for difficulties.

These are some simple, inexpensive tips to make sure you have a good and safe winter with your car or truck. If you have any suggestions of your own, leave us a comment!

Spring will be here before you know it!

Chad Kirchner
the authorChad Kirchner
In addition to Chad Kirchner's work here, he's a freelance automotive journalist for outlets around the world.

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