Don’t wait until the first winter storm comes to think about winterizing your car. You don’t want to be caught with streaky windshield wipers or tires with poor tread when you’re out on slick roads. Two areas you can work on now are to check your car’s condition and update your emergency kit.
Check your car’s condition
In addition to your regular oil change and maintenance work, be sure to look at the following:
- Antifreeze – Check the level and add recommended fluid if needed.
- Battery – Have your battery checked, and don’t forget to have the terminals checked and cleaned.
- Windshield Wipers – Fall is a good time to swap out the rubber inserts. They sit on a hot surface throughout the summer and can get dry and cracked. AAA reports that most people change wipers every three years, but they recommend every six to 12 months. Early signs a change is needed are streaking or noisy operation. Don’t wait until the rubber shreds, because the metal arm underneath could scratch your windshield.
- Wiper Fluid – Keep the wiper washing fluid reservoir full. This can improve your visibility greatly by keeping the windshield clean and clear. Kentucky State Police recommend using a special winter-time mixture.
- Tires – Check the tread for depth and uneven wear; also check the air pressure.
- Gasoline – Start keeping a full tank of gas, this can prevent the fuel line from freezing.
Update Your Emergency Kit
Some of the items that are a good idea to keep in your car on a daily basis are:
- Windshield scraper
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Water and high calorie snack food
- First aid kit – you can keep a pocket knife in there
- Jumper cables
Extra items for trips are recommended. No one wants to think about unplanned overnight stays in their vehicle, but it happens every year to someone. Consider packing:
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries or hand-crank
- Necessary medications
- Extra food and water. Next time you’re shopping, buy a couple cans of stew with a pull top and a gallon jug of water. Put them in a separate bag and leave them in the car when you get home.
- Cell phone charger
- Extra hats, gloves, and socks
- Waterproof matches
- Map of the area and compass
No one wants to be stuck in a dangerous winter situation, but these will all help you stay safe should the worst happen.