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Winter is Coming: 5 Tips for Winterizing Your Car

Image via Flickr by the National Roads and Motorist Association

Image via Flickr by the National Roads and Motorist Association

With winter around the corner, many people’s thoughts will be turning to tinsel and turkey. If you’re a car owner, you should also be thinking about how to properly prepare your car for cold weather even if you live in Southern California. Here are five tips for winterizing your car.

Fill Up Your Tank

Driving your car on fumes and then buying a few dollars worth of fuel is never a good idea. In the winter it’s especially bad news, because — along with the the obvious risk of running out of fuel — the cold weather can often cause condensation to develop in an empty gas tank. If that water makes its way into the car’s fuel line, not only might your car not start, you may also face a costly repair bill.

Perform Basic Maintenance

Before winter calls, perform essential maintenance on your car. This should include checking things like your ignition and brakes, changing spark plugs, and inspecting the fan belt, hoses, and distributor. You should also check your battery, replace your windscreen wipers and fluid, and ensure you have the right level of antifreeze. If you do not feel comfortable in your ability to complete these tasks, take your car to the mechanic.

Check Tire Safety

As part of your basic maintenance checks, you should properly inspect each of your car’s tires. Keeping tires inflated to the correct level allows the tread to do its job, and will cut the likelihood of your car sliding on ice. You can check your tire pressure and inflate tires at most gas stations. Remember to do the same checks on your spare tire. If the area where you live is prone to particularly bad winter weather, you might also consider fitting snow tires.

Pack Necessary Supplies

With winter on the horizon, now is the time to check that that your equipment is all in order and add any extra items needed for the cold season. As well as a properly inflated spare tire and all the things you need to change a tire, make sure your supplies include a tool kit, jumper cables, and a tow chain. Additionally, you might add a shovel and a bag of salt, both of which will help you get moving again if you get stuck in snow. Of course, don’t forget the snow brush and ice scraper if you’re in a cold climate!

Prepare an Emergency Kit

In addition to packing regular supplies, it makes sense to pack an emergency kit for winter. This should include a working flashlight, reflective triangles, and an exterior windsheild cleaner. Also pack gloves, blankets, and emergency food and water. Other possible additions include a compass, maps, and a first aid kit, although you should never leave your car unless you have warm clothes and know exactly where you are going.

Perform these safety checks and pack the necessary items in your car well before the worst of winter hits. Autumn is the ideal time to address these tasks so you may drive through winter without a hitch.