#1 Check Your Tire Pressure and Consider Snow Tires: If your tires have many years on them – not many miles, but years- you may consider inspecting them for things such as irregular wear and dry rotting. This unnoticed can cause sudden loss of control and tire blowouts. If you do not have a vehicle that can handle snow tires, make sure you check the tire pressure in each tire to ensure the safest drive possible. In Evansville, there is air available at almost every gas station for a small cost OR you can use it for free at the Marathon on North Green River Road and the Marathon on Red Bank Road. If you ever find yourself skidding, do not apply the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator and slowly turn your wheel in the opposite direction. It is easy to over correct here so try to stay calm and mindful of your actions.
#2 Check Your Battery: On average, car batteries last about three to five years. If it is time to get a new one, consider replacing it in the fall when batteries typically go on sale AND because winter months are harder on your engine and cause it to work harder, putting more pressure on the battery. Most mechanic shops will offer to check your battery for free.
#3 Check Your Oil and Oil Viscosity: Oil keeps the metal surfaces of your engine from grinding together and causing damage. The viscosity (or thickness) of oil is a crucial key to ensuring your engine is running properly. If the oil is too thick, it will flow too slowly and your engine can overheat. In the winter time, cold temperatures cause oil to thicken but you can keep this in control by having regular oil changes done to your vehicle. Most technicians recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles or every three months — whichever comes first.
#4 Put in the Correct Amount of Antifreeze: Antifreeze protects your engine from freezing in cold weather and overheating on hot days. A 50:50 mix of antifreeze and water is ideal to keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as -34 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t worry about trying to bust out your measuring cup to achieve the perfect ratio however, most bottles of antifreeze are solid premixed with water.
#5 Keep Your Fuel Tank Full: Cold and constantly shifting temperatures can cause condensation to form on the walls of a gas tank that is near empty and may result in water dripping into the gas. It will eventually sink to the bottom, since water is heavier than gas, possibly freezing up the fuel lines — which can result in the blocking of gas and halting of your travel plans. Repairs to correct this can be very costly so do yourself the favor and keep your gas tank near full this winter.
#6 Check Your Defrost and Heating Units: With the morning temperature hitting a brisk 20 degrees this morning in Evansville, you have probably had to turn on your heating system and seat warmers by this point. If your heater is not working, the usual culprit is a faulty heater coil. Defrosters work by blowing warm, dry air over the glass to reduce the amount of moisture (thus causing the fogginess). If your defroster is functioning properly but you are still having a problem with fog, check your car over for air leaks around the doors and windows.
#7 Replace Windshield Wipers and Fill Wiper Fluid: Low visibility can make winter driving very dangerous. Make sure you inspect your wiper blades for cracks (since they are made out of plastic and rubber) and check to make sure your wiper fluid is filled up, as it can assist in breaking up snow and ice on the windshield.
#8 Check Your Car’s Belts and Hoses: Typically, belts and hoses are only checked when the car is due for a tune-up. It doesn’t hurt to take a look and make sure everything is holding up properly around the engine. Cold temperatures can weaken them so a breakage is more likely to occur during the winter months.
#9 Make Sure Your 4-Wheel Drive Works: If you own an SUV you probably don’t use 4-wheel drive too much in the summer unless you enjoy off-roading. A properly functioning system can improve tire traction on snow and ice, decreasing the possibility of getting stuck when the weather starts to decline.
#10 Keep an Emergency Kit Inside Your Car: include items such as non-perishable foods, an extra coat, salt, a shovel, road flares, flashlights, boots, and even a portable cellphone charger incase you get stuck in a remote area.