Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Baby it’s cold outside.  It may not be the coldest it can be yet, but with Thanksgiving just a couple of short weeks away and Christmas not long after that, winter and all the weather that comes with it, is well on its way.  Unlike the hordes of visiting relatives who will be making their annual pilgrimage to pinch your cheeks and eat pumpkin pie; winter weather and road conditions will (hopefully) be staying a little longer.  This makes now the perfect time to prepare yourself, as well as your car, for the winter season.

In our blog about oil changes, we mentioned talked about how the motor oil sold in stores today was different than oil put into cars in decades past.  It used to be that you needed to change the oil in your car before winter, in order to add oil with a heavier weight, than the oil used in your car in the summer; because the differences in outside temperature would alter the consistency of the lubricant and make your care operate differently in different circumstances of the season if left he same.  Motor oil is now formulated with synthetic compounds that adjusts the viscosity, or how thick or thin the fluid is, depending on the temperature.  Also, where 3,000 miles used to be the standard for oil changes, additional improvements made in the production of motor oil make it effective for long, especially in newer cars; and you can now go from 5,000 to even 7,000 miles before you need an oil change.  Even with these advance in automotive maintenance, the fact is, is that it’s still above freezing in most places, but it wont be for long; and you’ll want your automobile in tip top performance heading into months where the weather and road conditions are bound to roughest miles put on your car, as you go over the snow and through the woods, to grandmother’s house.  So if you’re close to needing an oil change, do it now, while it’s nicer out than it may be in mid January, where Jack frost will be nipping at your nose, as you lay on the cold concrete of your garage, trying to get the oil plug to come loose before your hands turn blue.

The second think you should check is your tire’s air pressure.  As you may recall from science class, hot air expands, cold air contracts; and the air in your ties is, well, air.  As the months get colder, your tires can start looking low, so you need to identify the ideal pressure for your tires, usually found in your user manual, and keep an eye on the pressure through out the year, to ensure they remain properly inflated.  Tires with too little, or too much air, will affect the amount of traction – or grip – the tires have on the road; this can impact how well it handles and how much control you maintain while driving, which is important when driving over ice or snow covered roads.  Properly inflated tires will also affect your gas mileage; under or over inflation bringing your MPGs down.

It’s also a good idea to carry a bag or contain of kitty litter, or similar gritty compound with you, either in your truck or some other space in your vehicle you feel will be out of the way.  If you have difficulty getting traction with your vehicle during the winter, the kitty litter or like material can help you get your car moving forward again.  And if you’re storing cat litter in your car, include a pair of gloves; just in case you don’t have a pair with you when you experience car trouble, you can make sure to keep your hands warm while either getting back on the road or waiting for assistance.  Putting together a winter emergency road kit, for any other essentials you feel you could use in the event of car trouble, can also be beneficial to you or your loved one; like including a prepaid cellphone, in the event your don’t normally carry one or left it at home when you’re stranded somewhere without a phone; or a road flare or flashing signs, to help you flag down assistance when it gets dark.  These sort of kits would also make a nice, as well as practical holiday gifts, particularly for elderly parents or new teenage drivers.   When driving vehicles like rear wheel drive pick-up trucks, which can be lighter in the backend of the vehicle, it is a good idea to add extra weight in the bed, particularly near or over the wheel wells, to help in aid traction when navigating roads with reduced friction, due to winter weather conditions.

And whether you’re a new or an experienced driver, you can practice driving through in climate weather, such as snow and on ice, with our line of driving simulators SimuRide, bothHome and Professional Editions.  With realistic, 3D graphics and driving controls, users can get accustomed to defensive winter driving from a safe (and warm) environment.

Drive Safe!