Whether you like it or not, winter is coming.  The cold weather can be very bad for your car’s health if you don’t make sure to take a few simple steps to ensure that your vehicle and its engine are ready for the winter.  Thankfully, just in time for the chilly season, here are 5 tips to keep your car running smoothly through the winter months.  Of course, if you are less mechanically inclined (or just too busy) it is a good idea to take your car into your local auto shop for a checkup.  Your auto mechanic can offer repair advice if needed and tips to maintain your car’s health.

1. Check Your Tires

Winter weather brings ice, snow, sleet and a whole host of other potential obstacles to driving safely.  Your first line of defense against these winter hazards are your car’s tires so it is very important to inspect your tires for adequate tread and replace them if the tread is worn down.  It may be worth it to purchase a set of snow tires to ensure traction and safety and maintain car health.  Your local auto shop can recommend a good pair for you.

2. Replace Your Car’s Windshield Washer Fluid with De-Icer

Have you ever switched on the windshield wiper sprayer to clean your dirty windshield only to have the fluid freeze in the subzero temperatures and suddenly you are looking through a dirty and now frozen windshield?  You are not alone.  It is important to maintain the ability to clean your windshield of dirt and grime (which accumulates even faster in the winter months) to ensure visibility.  But, make sure that you don’t make matters even worse when you next reach for that knob by buying window washing fluid which a de-icing component.  You will probably also want to inspect your windshield wipers themselves to make sure that they are still contacting the windshield well and operating efficiently.  If not, it is time to get them replaced at your local auto shop.

winter driving
Don’t let this happen to your car! Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter!

3. Inspect Belts and Hoses

Inspect your engine’s belts and hoses to make sure that they aren’t cracked or worn out.  If one of these breaks, you will be stranded really quickly, and standing in the freezing cold waiting for a tow truck is not most people’s idea of a good time.  If they look a bit worn, it’s probably best to take the car in to your local auto shop for repair advice and replacement if necessary.

4. Get an Oil Change (If You Need It)

Having the correct oil for winter driving goes a long way to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your engine in cold start situations.  Make sure that you get your oil filter replaced if necessary and get an oil change if your vehicle needs one (check the sticker that is probably in the upper left of your windshield for the mileage or date of your next oil change).  Many vehicles will benefit from having a lighter oil (such as 5W30) in the engine during the winter time.  Your local auto shop can help you find the correct engine oil for your vehicle.

5. Get a Winter Check Up

Take your car into your local auto shop to get a quick check up to preserve your car’s health through the winter.  Your mechanic will be able to check out the battery, antifreeze level, thermostat, heater, brakes and defroster and make sure that everything is functioning properly as well as offer repair advice and estimates on any repairs that may be required.

Make sure to follow these simple tips to maintain safe driving conditions, keep your engine running smoothly and ensure your that your car is able to withstand the cold weather as well as you are.