Winter’s coming! And while we may not be looking forward to the snow, ice and cold temperatures that are on the way, it’s important to be prepared. So pull those winter clothes out of the attic, stock up the shed with road salt and shovels, and prepare your vehicle for a long, cold winter. We all hope it won’t be a long, cold winter, but it’s always better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst!
Consider Snow Tires
We know, we know – buying tires when you already have tires goes against everything we think we know about saving money, but if you have to drive in snow and ice, it’s more of an investment than a splurge. Winter tires have superior tread that is made for digging into snow and ice, and are made from rubber compounds designed to retain their flexibility in cold temperatures.
But what does that mean to you when you’re on the road? According to Consumer Reports snow tires are 40% better for snow traction and 15% better in ice braking than all-season tires. That’s a significant difference and well worth the investment! What may seem like a large up-front cost now will ultimately be saving wear and tear on your all-season tires during those winter months, so the primary cost is just the mount and balance each spring and fall when you switch the tires. Not a bad trade off for 40% better traction!
Take a look at this video on YouTube to see what a drastic difference winter tires can make, with a RWD BMW pitted against a 4WD vehicle on a snowy hill. The results may surprise you!
At the very least, make sure your tires have good tread – all-season tires with low tread are simply unsuitable for winter driving – and make sure each tire is properly inflated. Making sure your tires are inflated to the proper PSI will cost nothing and will significantly increase the safety of your tires. For more information, see our “Ask Andy” blog regarding tire inflation or contact the Hershey Motors Service Department.
Check Battery Cables
Batteries do not like winter. Join the club, right? But if your battery isn’t happy, you’re not going to be happy either – especially if you’re sitting on the side of the road waiting for someone with jumper cables to come along. Battery capacity is reduced in cold weather, so issues that may not have created a problem during the warmer months may suddenly decide to pop up and ruin your day. Most likely at the worst possible time! Check your battery’s cables for cracks and breaks and make sure the terminals fit snugly. The Hershey Motors Service Department typically performs a battery check with each oil change, and also offers a simple check of your voltage and cold-cranking amps free of charge.
Getting a coolant or radiator service every 60,000 miles or so (check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more specific information) will help to extend the life of your vehicle. Over time, the antifreeze in your vehicle’s cooling system will lose its ability to properly protect your engine, which is arguably the most important component in your car. It’s especially important in winter to make sure you have proper antifreeze to protect your cooling system from freezing up while your vehicle is parked.
Windshield Wipers and Fluid
Windshield wipers may not seem like a particularly important part of your vehicle’s maintenance, but in the winter – when road salt spray is a way of life – having properly working windshield wipers can be vitally important to your visibility. Inspect your wipers to make sure they are able to completely clear your line of sight, make sure your washer fluid is full, and keep extra fluid on hand for long trips.
Keeping up with regular oil changes is always important, regardless of the season, but it’s not a bad idea to be ahead of the curve. Have it done along with your vehicle’s winterization check up, and you won’t have to worry about getting it changed in the middle of a snow storm!
Make sure your gas tank is at least half full. You don’t want to run out of gas in freezing cold temperatures! It’s not a bad idea to keep a small fuel container in your vehicle, so that if you do have to hike to the gas station, you’ll already have a suitable container.
Everyone’s emergency kit checklist may be slightly different – depending on the climate and terrain, the length and remoteness of your trips, and any special needs you and your passengers may have. You can purchase a vehicle emergency kit from most retailers, but here is a general list of useful items to get you started:
- Jumper Cables (or better yet a Jump Box)
- First Aid Kit
- Reflective Warning Triangle and Flares
- Blankets and/or Heavy Coats
- Winter Boots
- Food and Water
- Flashlight with Batteries
- Power Bank (for your cell phone)
- Cat Litter, Sand or Road Salt
- Ice Scraper
- Extra Windshield Washer Fluid
- Small Tool Kit
- Collapsible Shovel
- Spare Tire and Jack
- Pocket Knife, Duct Tape, Rope, etc.
If you have any questions about weather-related car maintenance or repair, don’t hesitate to call the Hershey Motors Service Department at 610-857-5283 for more information. We’re not just a full-service garage, we’re a resource for helping you to get the most out of your vehicle!
During the month of November, our service department will be running a special on winter weather-related car maintenance, offering a coolant flush, oil change, air filter, tire rotation, battery check and air pressure check at a reduced price. Click here for more details!