Get Your Car Winter-Ready Before It’s Too … Cold!

Winter! It’s a season us Georgians aren’t too familiar with. At least like we are with the hot, humid temperatures of the summer. Although our winters are typically pretty mild, and what snow we might get is minimal, there are still precautionary steps we need to take to prepare for the winter – especially when it comes to making sure our cars are winter-ready. Remember: extremely cold weather is always a possibility!

Preparing your car for use in cold weather, also called winterizing, can prevent a lot of headaches and save you a lot of money. Without these steps, you take the risk of driving with poor tire tread on snowy or icy conditions, running out of antifreeze for your car’s radiator, and not being able to properly clear snow-covered windows.

If you take the following advice to winterize your car, you’re sure to be prepared if you get caught on the side of the road in a snow storm.

Steps to take to winterize your car

  • Fill up with antifreeze
    Your car’s radiator is responsible for heating and cooling your car so the engine is at the optimal temperature to run properly. Antifreeze is an important addition to prevent the water in the radiator from freezing. Without the right amount of antifreeze, your car can fail to operate properly and end up leaving you stranded. Check the antifreeze level in your car and add fluid as needed.

  • Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a winter mix
    Driving in the snow can get really dirty. Mud and slush can get splattered on your windshield by other cars, making it difficult to see. In below-freezing temperatures, regular windshield-wiper fluid can freeze to your windshield and make it extremely dangerous to drive. The winter mix won’t freeze and will help to keep your windshield clear from debris. Also, check to make sure your windshield wipers are on and working properly.

  • Check your tires
    Make sure you have proper tread on your tires and replace all worn tires. Check the air pressure to make sure they’re at the right level for your car. Learn many useful tire maintenance tips from the Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit.

  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full
    This is a good tip to live by all of the time, but especially when temps can get below freezing and driving in bad weather is imminent. You don’t want to get stranded on the highway or in a desolate area without gas, and you never know when you may be stuck in a bad snow storm. Plan ahead and fill your tank!

  • Take it to the mechanic
    Most of the things mentioned above can be checked out by a local mechanic. Take it in to get looked over by someone you trust. Having all of your fluids topped off, your battery tested, brakes checked, and tires examined, is never a bad idea when getting your car ready for the cold.

Prepare a Ready Kit for your car

When it comes to driving in snow and ice, you never know what can happen! If you’ve lived in Georgia for a number of years, you know about the 2014 Snowpocalypse (or Snowmageddon). People were stranded for hours, cars were stranded for days, and many were forced to walk for miles to the closest business or their home.

In a situation like that, it’s always good to have:

  • Blanket
  • Jacket, hat, and gloves
  • Bottle of water
  • ​Some snacks
  • Portable cell phone charger
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra medication if you rely on anything

Pack all of these basic essentials into a small bag and keep it stored in your trunk for desperate situations. Bad winter weather can sneak up at any time. It’s better to be over-prepared than not prepared at all!

For a list of things to get checked when you take your car into a mechanic, review the CDC’s guide to Preparing Your Car for Winter Weather.

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