Regardless of where you live in the United States, the onset of winter weather can be a shock after warm summer and fall months if you aren’t prepared. And when it comes to your car, keeping it in shape and well taken care of during cold months can save you a lot of money in repairs and maintenance. Before winter gets here, take the time to do an inventory of your car to see what maintenance might be needed to keep it protected and running smoothly.
Here are a number of things to check out on your car before winter arrives:
- Check your oil and fluids. Make sure your car is up to date on an oil change (it’s generally recommended to change it every 5,000 miles), as well as your car’s fluids. This can include windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant. Also, take this time to check your air filter and see if it needs to be replaced.
- Turn on your lights. It gets dark a lot earlier in the winter, so make sure your car’s lights are working properly – headlights, high beams, brake lights, turn signals, and interior lights. Malfunctioning car lights can be a serious safety issue on the road.
- Replace your windshield wipers. This is especially important if you live in a region that gets a lot of rain. New wiper blades can help you drive safely in the case of a rainstorm on the road.
- Check your tires. Do your tires have good tread on them? If you haven’t upgraded your tires in a while, doing so before winter is the best time, as winter weather can often lead to slippery and sometimes dangerous road conditions. Also, if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, consider investing in snow tires if your car doesn’t have 4-wheel drive.
- Test your car’s battery. A dead battery in the dead of winter can be a nightmare. Testing your battery to see if it has a good charge can prevent that; if you have concerns, replace it.
- Look into roadside assistance services. When all else fails, have a backup plan. Many auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance, and programs like AAA come with an annual fee and a number of perks and discounts. Roadside assistance can be a lifesaver, sometimes literally, and is a worthy investment.