Question: When I was a kid, I remember my grandmother taking the car to the garage to make sure it was “ready for winter.” They’d change the oil and coolant and put on snow tires. But with modern cars, we don’t have to do a lot of the maintenance my grandparents did. Do we still need to winterize our cars?
Answer: The short answer is, “Yes, you do.” Although cars have come a long way since we’ve had to replace summer weight oil with winter weight, there are still a number of items to check to ensure your car will start and drive reliably all winter long. Here are our top six:
- Your Car Battery: AAA reports that dead batteries are among the top three roadside assistance requests, along with flat tires and keys being locked inside the car. If your car battery is 4 years or older, we recommend having it tested to see if it’s likely to survive winter. Although a weak battery is more likely to fail in extreme summer heat, it’s much more uncomfortable and inconvenient to wait for a tow truck in the winter!
- Your Wiper Blades: How many times have you been on the road during a rain or snow storm only to realize — too late — that your wiper blades are streaking or just plain not clearing the windshield? If you’re not sure when you last replaced your wiper blades, it’s time to get a new pair now.
- Your Tires: Your tires are the only contact between your vehicle and the road surface. When you’re driving through rain, sleet and snow, you want them to grip the pavement. We recommend inspecting the tire tread for thickness or uneven wear and the sidewalls for signs of dry rotting, cracking or bubbling. For safety reasons, we recommend tire tread that’s 4/32 inch or deeper. You’ll stop significantly faster in a panic situation, which could make the difference between a startling sudden stop and a fender bender. Although we don’t sell tires at John’s Auto Service, we are happy to inspect your tires for you, make recommendations and answer any questions you have.
- Your Brakes: When it comes to safety, your brakes and tires are a package deal. Now’s an ideal time to have your brakes inspected to make sure there’s sufficient life left in the brake pads or shoes, that all four brakes are wearing evenly, that the rotors aren’t warped or rusted, and that the parking brake is going to hold up if you find yourself parking on a steep slope.
- Your Engine Coolant: Is the coolant in your radiator translucent or muddy brown and sludgy? If the latter, you’re due for a cooling system flush. This will ensure your engine will be protected when the temperature dips below zero and that your car outputs enough heat to keep you warm and cozy inside the car.
- Your Headlights: When it’s dark by 4:30 pm, we rely on our headlights to get us to or from work, sometimes both. Now’s a good time to make sure both high beams and low beams are working, as well as your taillights, brake lights and license plate bulbs.
If you haven’t done your winter prep yet, we’re here to help. Despite all the advances in vehicle technology, AAA rescued a record 32 million motorists last year. Don’t become a statistic. Call John’s Auto Service!