Driving in winters can be tricky. Motorists have to deal with low visibility because of foggy conditions. Low light conditions make it difficult to see far and the cold conditions can play havoc with your car's internals. It's nothing short of a battle between the driver and the open road.
There are some maintenance jobs and safety checks that are specific for winter. To make sure you don't end up as a roadside popsicle, have a look under the hood to ensure things are in good shape. With any weather change, you should go for regular maintenance check-up to make sure your car is up to date on all items that need it.
It will help minimise or even avoid situations where you have to cope with problems such as cold starting issues. The following winter maintenance jobs will keep you and your car out of trouble.
Read the manual
Read the owner's manual to know when you need to change your car's tyres, brakes, filters and fluids. If you're still confused visit the nearby service station. Follow the service schedule recommended by the manufacturer.
Leave enough time to thoroughly demist the inside of your car before setting off - don't start moving until you have good all-round visibility. Make sure the car's blower is pushing out plenty of hot air and that the air-con is on so the mist doesn't build up again. The heater will also ensure that any moisture that enters the cabin evaporates quickly. Switch on the air-conditioner in refresh mode for quicker demisting of the interiors.
Change your oil and filter
Clean, high-quality engine oil protects the motor from cold start situations. Use the oil recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Never rev your engine hard immediately after starting up. Let the lubricants circulate through the entire engine before you start revving the engine.
No Tyre troubles
Make sure pressure in the tyres is maintained to levels recommended by the manufacturer. If you have to drive in snowy conditions then its a good idea to reduce the tyre pressure by a few PSI for better traction. Don't over inflate the tyres if you have to drive in wet conditions as it will lead to traction loss. If you are staying in regions where snowfall is common, then make sure you switch the tyres of your car to winter tyres. It will be easier for the car in the long run.
Check your lights
Visibility is a key factor in the winters. Check your car's lights (taillights, signal bulbs, brake lights, headlights, and even cabin light) to see if they are working properly. Always carry an extra set of bulbs and fuse just in case something goes wrong, leaving you stranded. Adjust the headlights of your car so they won't blind other motorists coming from the opposite direction.
Change the air filter
Check the air filter and replace it if it's clogged. Dust and contaminants accumulated over a period of time chokes the air filter. Once you turn on the car's heater, these contaminants will blow through the blower into the car's cabin, which are harmful to the health of the occupants.
Prepare an emergency kit and keep it in your car. Also, have your phone ready along with food, water, flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit.
Parking your car
It is very important that you park your car right in the winters. Try not to leave your car parked outdoors for too long. Water, frost and dirt are bad for the car. If you will be leaving your car unattended for long then you better leave your car parked in a garage or a sheltered car park.
Check belts and hoses
Check that your engine's belt and hoses are in good working condition. Belts and hoses are typically checked when the vehicle is due for a tune-up, but cold temperature can weaken these to the point of cracking and snapping. Damaged engine belts won't be able to withstand extreme cold, so they should be replaced at the earliest if found to be damaged.