Is Your Car Ready for Winter? [Checklist]

Use this winterize vehicle checklist to prepare yourself for upcoming bad weather. Preparation not only makes winter less stressful – it could save your life. Check out all of winter weather car tips below.

Check all fluid levels.

Two super important fluids are your coolant and your wiper fluid. The coolant should be checked not just for how much there is, but also much antifreeze you have mixed in with it. Antifreeze will ensure that your coolant doesn’t freeze over winter. Wiper fluid is necessary for visibility, so always make sure you have enough!

Put on all-season or snow tires.

The last thing you want is to slip and slide around the road. Good tires will prevent that and get you home safely. You have two options. Either put on separate snow tires for the winter months or keep all-season tires on all year. Snow tires provide even better traction but are less convenient. You don’t have to change your tires twice a year with all-season tires, but they don’t perform as well in the snow.

Regardless of what type of tire you choose, also keep chains handy. These are a necessity in certain winter weather conditions, especially in the mountains.

Make sure your battery is fully charged.

Cold weather makes your battery output decrease but your engine actually needs a stronger charge to start in freezing temperatures. This combination can easily lead to dead batteries. Check your battery for any rust or corrosion, and maybe even replace it if it’s gotten too old.

Keep an emergency kit in your trunk.

Always prepare for the worst-case scenario. An emergency kit is so important in winter because getting stranded in freezing temperatures is much more dangerous. We love this helpful list from Bridgestone for what to keep in a winter safety kit.

Winter driving safety kit

Bridgestone recommends you keep these items in your emergency kit:

  • Pack of matches
  • First aid kit
  • Flares
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Ice scraper
  • Non-perishable food and beverage items
  • Warm clothing
  • Jumper cables
  • Bag of sand and a shovel
  • Car toolkit
  • Cell phone
  • Extra antifreeze

Install heavy-duty wipers.

Most wipers only last for a year. So, you may need to change your wipers anyway. These are just as important as your wiper fluid level. Visibility will keep your safe. Consider installing specialty wipers that are built for bad weather conditions.

Schedule your regular maintenance check-up.

All those maintenance tasks you’ve been procrastinating? Do them before the freezing weather starts. Winter temps can compound these normal issues. Take your car to the mechanic and spend the money to do your regularly scheduled maintenance. This could be as simple as an oil change or you may need to replace some of your engine’s parts.

Check your tire pressure regularly.

Cold weather can cause your tire pressure to change drastically. If you put on new tires in the fall, their pressure will likely change as the temperature drops. Make it a habit to check your tire pressure against the manufacturer recommendation a few times throughout the winter season. The right tire pressure will help with traction and stability.

Never let your gas tank dip below a quarter tank.

Just like the other fluids in your car, your gas is at risk of freezing. If you keep too little in the tank, it can freeze much faster. Not only does it protect your gas from freezing, more gas can save your life. If your car breaks down, you may need to keep your car running to stay warm. More gas means your car can run longer.

Lubricate your locks.

Freezing water can get inside your outer door locks. You can buy a silicone lubricant to spray on your door latches. This lubricant will repel water and prevent your locks from sticking. If you don’t want to buy special spray, look in our pantry for cooking oil spray!

Put in all-weather floor mats.

We talked a lot about the engine and exterior of the car, but what about the interior? Protect your car’s carpet from snow and dirt with floor mats. Just make sure the floor mat doesn’t interfere with the gas and brake pedals.

Get a more reliable car.

If your car is too far gone because of age or poor condition, it may be time to invest in a safer vehicle this winter. If you think this may be the right decision for you, make your car buying experience easier with our free guide. Read the car buying guide now!

Did we miss any important tips? Let us know in the comments below.