Do you know what is necessary to prepare your car for the winter and harsh conditions that come with it? Despite being designed to cope with all sorts of weather, modern cars still need certain care to ensure longevity. In this article we will explain several simple and important steps that will help you with these preparations.

What is the most important thing?  

Swapping summer tires with winter ones is the obvious first and the most important step. Don't think it’s not just the snow that causes problems. When outside temperatures drop near freezing point, the performance of any summer tire will drop dramatically. This will result in less grip and longer stopping distances. Unless you have a dedicated set of wheels with winter tires, make sure to swap your tires before it starts snowing. When that happens, tire shops will be flooded with cars waiting for this service. Also, if you have used your winter tires for several years, check them and make sure they are not worn out.

Is there anything else to do?

Snow and ice is something that your wipers will be dealing with for the next several months. By checking their condition, you will ensure they are in good shape and up to the job. No visible damage, and no smearing the windshield is the key. If needed, you can get new ones from a discount store or your local car parts shop.  As with many other things, avoid the cheapest no-name alternatives, and go for a known brand.

A washer fluid bottle is usually hidden deep in the engine bay and you won’t be able to check the fluid. So the only thing you can do is to fill it up with winter washer fluid. If you drive a lot, we would recommend buying a larger container, rather than several smaller bottles. And just like wiper blades, avoid cheapest no-name brands, as these may freeze up when sprayed on the windshield.

What else should I check?

Checking the level and freezing point of the engine coolant is another important task, even if you believe that everything is good. You can get a good coolant tester from eBay or amazon for less than $10. Another option is to have it checked by a professional mechanic. As this is a quick job, most workshops usually don’t charge regular customers for this. If topping up coolant, check the color of it - blue, yellow or pink and make sure that you get a suitable type of antifreeze. You should not mix them up.

Visually check for traces of corrosion on battery terminals and clean it with a wire brush if there are any. Also, if your batter is a 'wet-cell' type, meaning it is filled with water,  check the water level of each cell. If it needs topping up, use distilled water. In the end, give your car a thorough wash and check for any traces of corrosion or paint damage. These will get much worse by the end of the winter.

How important is this?  

As we have explained in this article, preparing your car for winter is very important. Besides improving road safety, it will also ensure it can cope with harsh conditions. Most of these tasks are quite easy. Still, if you don’t have the right tools or don’t feel up to the job, consider hiring a professional. At FixMyCar, we have certified technicians that can come to your home and help you prepare the car for the winter. This will ensure all important components are checked and that your car is ready to hit the road.