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7 Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

With winter on the way, it is the perfect time to prepare your vehicle for the rough and rugged colder months. Here are 7 tips to keep your ride road-ready: Tires Make sure you have proper inflation according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Once you are sure you are at the correct psi for each tire, check the tread on your tires using “the penny test.” Place a penny head-first into the tread on several spots on your tire. If you can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head, you’re good. If you can see it, you may need to take your vehicle in for new, safe tires with good tread for this winter. Brakes Without even looking at your brake pads, you can get a feel (or sound) if your brakes need to be replaced. Listen and feel for grinding or squeaking when you apply pressure to the pedal. You may also notice the vehicle requiring more time and space to safely stop. If this is the case, roll on into your favorite mechanic’s garage as soon as possible. Battery Seasonal changes in temps can highlight a dying battery. If your battery is taking longer to start your car, especially in the colder weather, or if there is corrosion on the battery posts, swing by an auto parts store for a battery test so that you aren’t left stranded in the cold. Lights Winter tends to mean longer periods of darkness for many of us, so check all exterior lights. Functional headlights, break lights, turn signals, and hazard lights are a must in the winter months which usually carry low visibility. Fluids & Lube Check all fluid levels- engine oil, transmission, windshield washer, coolant, brakes, power steering. It is okay to “top it off” occasionally when fluids are low, but eventually fluids need to be flushed out before new is added. Windshield washer fluid can also be replaced with one that contains de-icer, and graphite lubricant added to the door lock cylinders can keep the locks from freezing. When the cold and ice strike, rest assured you’ll be ready. Windshield wipers Inspect your wiper blades for wear and tear. Wipe the blade with a clean cloth, and run a quick trial of the washer fluid to see if the blades smoothly glide across your windshield without any, or much, interference. If there are loud squeaks and obnoxious streaks, it may be time for a new set.

Emergency kit Beyond the store-bought kit, you can also make your own that is season-specific. Grab a small bag and stuff it with items to keep you safe, warm, and hydrated if stranded. In your trunk or behind a seat near the kit, keep a small shovel and some cat litter to help you get out when stuck. Depending on your “prepper-level,” you can really prepare for the road’s worst with an extra ice-scraper, phone charger, flashlights, snacks, crank radio, road-side flares, etc., so get carried away! Failing to plan is planning to fail, and Old Man Winter is a stern and sometimes unforgiving sensei.

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