Winter is never a great time to be on the road, but a little preventive vehicle maintenance can help keep you and your loved ones safe. Here’s some advice on what to prepare for and five tips for keeping your automobile in good shape.

Know What to Expect

More hours of darkness, lower temperatures, rain and sometimes ice and snow… these are few things to look forward to during the winter months. January is usually the most unpleasant, but frost is possible both before and after this time. Make sure you and your car are ready for slippery roads, cold and reduced visibility.

Heater

You’ll need a functioning heater for warmth, but also for getting ice off your windshield. A heater can appear to stop working if the cabin air filter is clogged, so consider getting this changed. It’s not a difficult do-it-yourself job but if you’re uncertain what’s involved or where it is, come see us at Roadmaster.

Headlights

These aren’t just for seeing the road; they help other drivers see you. Check all the lights on your car, not just headlights, and have any blown bulbs replaced. Modern vehicles are often designed in ways that make it difficult to reach the bulbs. If that’s the case on your vehicle, let us help.

Extra tip for brake lights: back up to a wall or garage door and watch the mirror for a red glow red when you tap the brake pedal. That way, you can test them before you get on the road.

Headlight alignment is also important. You don’t want to dazzle oncoming traffic or be lighting up the tree tops. This is not a DIY project. If you think your headlights might be out of alignment, bring the vehicle in and let us check it with our specialized equipment.

Windshield Wipers

Over time, and especially during hot summers, wiper blades harden. That leads to them streaking and can cause reduced visibility. Few things are less fun than driving on a wet road at night with wipers that aren’t clearing the windshield properly. It makes it very hard to see, and that’s dangerous. If your windshield wipers are more than six months old, get them replaced.

On the subject of wipers, top up the windshield wash fluid reservoir with a low temperature solution that won’t freeze.

Battery

A battery always dies at the worst time possible. You’ll be trying to get to work or school on a cold morning, or perhaps a son, daughter or spouse will be leaving a friend’s house late at night, and the car won’t start. Getting the battery replaced ahead of time avoids the stress and hazards these problems entail.

A car battery usually lasts five to six years, but that depends on the weather and the type of driving you do. Hot weather can be as bad for a battery as deep cold, but problems won’t show up until the starter motor calls for lots of amps to turn the engine over. If your battery is more than five years old, or if you notice the engine seems reluctant to start, have it checked out and replace it if necessary.

Tires

Two things to check on your tires are pressure and tread depth. Keeping the recommended pressure in your tires ensures a good contact, which is what provides the grip for stopping and cornering. It also saves fuel, keeps the ride comfortable, and helps absorb impacts with potholes.

Tread is what clears water from between your tire and the road. There must be at least 1/16” of tread across the full width of each tire–preferably more. If you see your tires are wearing unevenly or there’s little tread left, it’s time for some new rubber.

Attention Now Avoids Problems Later

Winter driving is hard enough without throwing car trouble into the mix. The five tips we’ve provided here will help keep your vehicle operating safely and reliably. If you have any questions or need any help, call us. We want you to stay safe!