Several years ago, a New York doctor created a safety checklist for emergency room staff. Once implemented, it’s calculated that the list saved 1,500 lives!
That’s how powerful a list can be, which is one reason we developed the following list of car parts to have checked before cold weather moves in. After all, Fall’s National Car Care Month is in October. Plan ahead to prevent yourself from having to call Roadside Assistance!
Make sure your car’s battery has the juice it needs to battle Jack Frost. Nothing taxes your car’s battery and charging system as much as winter. Before the forecast calls for “snowmageddon,” have your battery checked. It’s as easy as a trip to an automotive repair shop and it’s often a free service!
Confirm that your tires will grip the road, even when snow blankets every inch of it. You can do this a few ways. One of the best is to switch to winter tires, which are specially made to handle extreme cold and tough winter weather conditions.
“Our test-track observations lead us to advise that using snow tires provides the best grip and assurance for going, stopping, and cornering no matter what you drive: all-wheel drive, front-drive, or rear-drive,” says Consumer Reports.
If snow tires aren’t in your budget, check the tread depth in your current tires with a penny. Turn the penny upside down so that Lincoln’s hair is pointed towards the ground. Place the penny into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered, you likely have more than 2/32” of tread depth remaining. If his head is visible, your tires may be unsafe to drive on, especially in winter weather conditions. Consult with your local tire shop to find a solution that keeps you safe and fits within your budget.
Do your current windshield wipers fail to completely clear your windshield during snowy, slushy, or wet winter conditions? It’s pretty typical to have to replace them every 6 to 12 months. If your forecast calls for severe winter weather, consider replacing them with winter-specific windshield wipers. They’re made to prevent ice and snow buildup from interfering with clearing the windshield. If you can’t see, you can’t drive!
ENGINE BELTS & HOSES
Your engine needs sturdy belts and hoses to keep your car going. Odds are that your car’s engine uses a serpentine belt (most cars today do).That single belt does the work formerly done by two or even three belts and it’s in use the entire time your engine is on. Because of this, it’s designed to last a long time. That doesn’t mean it always does. Make sure you have your belt checked before winter arrives. At the same time, look at your engine’s hoses. They should be firm, not spongy or brittle, to combat the cold.
Two questions to ask yourself here: First, when’s the last time you had your oil changed? And what type of oil did the mechanic use? If it’s been more than six months since your last oil change, it may be time to invest in one and switch up the type of oil used.
Unless your mechanic or owner’s manual recommends otherwise, a motor oil with the letter “W” in it (like 5W-30) is what you want for winter driving. With the change in temperature, a motor oil specially designed for winter will flow more easily through your engine.
Did you know? Many oil change services also include filter replacements and essential fluid top-offs, like windshield wiper fluid!
Give Your Car (& Car Insurance) a Check-Up
Getting ready for winter is all about being aware—aware of the condition of your battery, tire tread, windshield wipers, engine belts and hoses, and motor oil. In the end, taking care of these important parts could save you from being stranded in freezing temperatures with snow falling all around you! Should the unthinkable happen, a Roadside Assistance plan could come to your rescue with a jump start, tow, or mechanical help. Not sure if you have Roadside Assistance? Call Direct Auto & Life Insurance at 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) to review your coverage and car insurance to make sure both match up with your needs.