Simple Steps to Prepare Your Car for Winter

Taking precautions at home and on the road can help keep your family safe and save time and money.

Take these precautions before heading out on the road this winter. 

Suprijono Suharjoto / Stocksy

Refill fluids.

Top off fluids and have your vehicle tuned up at an Approved Auto Repair shop. Ask your technician to check your tires for proper pressure and tread wear, then request a look at timing belts, wiper blades, batteries, and headlights. Minor work now can spare you major headaches—and expenses—later.

Protect your paint.

Before you don your winter jacket for the first time, take your car to the driveway—or car wash—for a coat of wax. The polymer layer lasts up to three months, protecting your paint from ice and snow damage.

Update your emergency kit.

Before a road trip, stock the car with a mobile phone and charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, drinking water, snacks, first-aid supplies, flares or reflectors, and jumper cables. Also, keep your gas tank at least half full.

Prevent rust.

De-icing chemicals can help head off skids, but they also wreak havoc on cars, causing an estimated $3 billion in rust-related damage annually in the U.S. Rust doesn't just mar a car's surface; it can corrode brake lines and exhaust systems, making your car more dangerous to drive. To prevent this, wash your vehicle regularly, paying close attention to the undercarriage. Some car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.

Check your tire tread.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risk of skids and spinouts increases on worn tires. To check for wear, do the quarter test: Insert a quarter into the tread, with Washington's head upside down. If you can see the top of George's noggin, it's time for new tires.

Double-check insurance.

Confirm that your home and auto insurance policies are current. Life events such as getting married, buying a new car, or making a change to your daily commute can affect your rates. If you’ve recently remodeled your house or purchased a big-ticket item, consider adjusting your home or renters insurance coverage. 

This article was first published in November 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.