Your safety and your car’s performance are primary concerns (or should be) should during winter, especially if you will be driving up to northern New Mexico Ski Country. To make sure you get there and back safely, winterize your car before you go.
If you have never winterized your vehicle, here’s a quick guide:
Step 1: Check Your Battery
Although car batteries can die any time of year, moist cold conditions make it more likely. And, that leaves you in the cold yourself. To spare yourself the inconvenience and, possibly, safety and/or health risks associated with being stranded because of a dead battery, check the charge. Many local auto parts stores will check your battery charge for free.
Step 2: Check Your Tire Pressure
Proper tire inflation ensures that your tires make sufficient contact with the road, but not so much contact as to cause excessive friction that eats away at fuel economy. Because air contracts with colder temperatures, your tire pressure may have dropped, even if your tires have no leaks
Checking tire pressure is easy. All you need are:
- A tire pressure gauge
- Recommended tire pressure for your make/model
Tire pressure gauges only cost a few dollars, so if you don’t already have one, get one. You can find them at any auto parts stores and most gas stations. As for recommended tire pressures, those are located on a metal plate inside the driver’s side door (and your owner’s manual).
Step 3: Top Off Your Fluids
Winter driving often means driving on slushy roads and/or in rain, sleet and snow. To maintain visibility, you need to clean your windshield—a lot. So, you need to make sure you are prepared for heavy-duty windshield washing (the kind that doesn’t require you to get out of your car).
Here’s what you need:
- A full windshield wiper fluid reservoir—filled with fluid rated for cold temperature use
- New windshield wipers—designed for winter use
If you have a long trip through snowy areas, packing a spare bottle of fluid is a good idea.
Step 4: Create an Emergency Kit
Despite your best-laid plans, accidents happen. You can increase your safety and comfort by packing a few essential items and some extra gear, such as:
- Ice scraper
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Road flares
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Potable water
- Non-perishable food
- A change of seasonal-appropriate clothing (one per driver/passenger)
While nearly everyone carries a cell phone, make sure you have an extra battery in case yours dies. Have a backup plan in case you are in an area without good reception.
That’s it! Winterizing your car is no monumental task, but it is worth the effort. Safe travels!