The next time you get into your car and turn the heater on to dispel winter’s chill, you can thank Margaret Wilcox. One of the first female engineers, Wilcox invented the automotive heater, for which she was granted a patent way back in 1893. (She also invented a combination washing machine and dishwasher, but that one didn’t work out quite as well.)
Making sure that your car is comfortable and safe to drive during the winter, however, requires more than just turning on the heater. Let’s take a look at the top 5 winter car care tips to keep you and your vehicle toasty warm and running smoothly until spring!
Winter Car Care Tips from the Experts
Depending on the climate where you live, not all of these will be applicable to your car, of course. For example, winter tires aren’t necessary if you live in California or Texas. If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, however, read on!
1. Switch to Winter Tires
How do you know if swapping out your regular tires for their winter-ready counterparts is worth the time and money? According to experts from Autotrader, a good rule of thumb is the temperature were you live. If it routinely dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, winter tires are a good idea.
Notice that we didn’t say “snow tires.” Winter tires not only handle snow better, but they are flexible at low temperatures, providing better traction on cold pavement.
2. Watch Your Tire Pressure
While we’re on the subject of tires, it’s important that you keep a close eye on your tire pressure when the winter winds begin to howl. Car tires lose approximately one pound of pressure for every 10-degree temperature drop. This leads to unnecessary wear and tear, as well as decreased traction on icy or snowy roads.
Check your tire pressure weekly during the winter months.
3. Be Wise About Your Wipers
Never use your wipers to remove ice or heavy snow from your windshield. Doing so can easily break the windshield wipers. Instead, use a scraper or snow brush, or let your car idle with the defrost on for a few minutes.
When inclement weather is forecast, raise the wipers from the windshield to prevent them from freezing in place.
4. Keep Your Tank Topped Off
It’s smart to keep your gas tank at least half-full during the winter months. In the event that you get stranded due to bad weather or dangerous driving conditions, you will thank yourself for the foresight.
5. Be Prepared
Additionally, stock your car with emergency supplies. If you get stuck or stranded, these items will be invaluable to have on hand:
- A first aid kit
- Basic tools for changing tires
- Sand or kitty litter to provide traction if your tires are spinning
- Non-perishable snacks and bottled water
- A change of clothes and a warm blanket
- Portable battery chargers: one for your car battery, and one for your cellphone
- Flashlight and flares
- De-icer, a good ice scraper/snow brush, and a small shovel
These winter car care tips will help you get through the snowy season both safely and comfortably. If you enjoyed this article, and want more information about car repair, check out this section of our blog!