As winter approaches, it’s essential to make sure your car is ready to tackle the challenges that the cold season brings. Winter weather can be harsh on vehicles, leading to potential breakdowns and costly repairs. You can save money by simply being prepared, with preventative winter car maintenance you can do yourself.
1. Check your tires
It’s hard to overstate how important tires are for overall safety on the road. Maintaining traction on icy and snowy roads depends on having your tires inflated to the proper pressure, and also making sure they have enough tread left. Check your tire pressure regularly, as it tends to drop in colder temperatures. If you live in an area where it snows a lot, it can be a good idea to invest in winter tires. If winter tires are out of your budget, tire chains can provide additional traction at a fraction of the cost.
2. Test your battery
Cold weather can be particularly tough on car batteries. Before winter comes, have your battery tested to make sure it’s in good condition. Many auto parts stores offer free battery testing, so take advantage of this service to avoid unexpected breakdowns on freezing days. Note that most car batteries should be replaced every 2-5 years. If you don’t drive your car regularly, that can shorten its life significantly, so it’s a good idea to get a battery tender to keep it charged while your car is sitting.
3. Inspect belts and hoses
Check the belts and hoses under your hood for signs of wear and tear. Cold weather can cause rubber parts to become brittle, which can cause potential leaks or cracks. Replacing worn-out belts and hoses can keep you from getting stranded, and is much more affordable than dealing with engine damage later!
4. Check and refill fluids
Make sure your car’s essential fluids are at the appropriate levels. These include engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Having adequate levels of these fluids ensures that your car functions optimally during winter conditions.
5. Replace worn wiper blades
Visibility is critical during winter driving, so make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. If your blades are worn or damaged, replace them to make sure you’ll have a clear view of the road when it’s raining or snowing. It’s easy to replace them yourself, and you can find affordable wiper blade replacements to fit your car at any auto parts store or online.
6. Check the heater and defroster
Before the cold weather sets in, test your car’s heater and defroster to make sure they’re working as they should. A properly working heater keeps you warm, and a functioning defroster prevents the windshield from fogging up, which is of course critical for visibility.
7. Winterize your windshield washer fluid
Regular windshield washer fluid can freeze in extremely cold temperatures. Fill your car’s wiper fluid reservoir with a fluid that contains antifreeze to prevent it from freezing in chilly conditions.
8. Put together an emergency kit
Assemble an affordable winter emergency kit to keep in your car for safety. Pack a blanket, flashlight, first aid supplies, ice scraper, jumper cables, water, and some non-perishable snacks like protein bars. An emergency kit can be a lifesaver if you find yourself stranded in winter weather.
9. DIY snow brush and ice melt solution
Instead of buying expensive snow brushes, repurpose an old broom or invest in a low-cost ice scraper with a brush. For an affordable solution that will melt ice, mix three parts vinegar with one part water and spray it on your windshield and windows to help prevent ice buildup.
10. Regular maintenance and DIY repairs
Perform regular maintenance like replacing the air filter and cleaning the battery terminals at home. If you’re comfortable with basic car repairs, consider DIY solutions for minor issues like changing the oil or replacing spark plugs. There are lots of online tutorials and guides that can make it easy to do many car maintenance tasks yourself.
The bottom line: winter car maintenance on a budget
In conclusion, preparing your car for winter doesn’t have to be expensive. By taking a proactive approach and addressing potential issues before they become major problems, you can keep your car running smoothly throughout the cold season. Regular maintenance, DIY solutions, and affordable winter accessories can help you stay safe on the road while also saving money. Remember, investing a little time and effort now can prevent costly repairs and ensure your vehicle is ready to handle winter’s challenges.