Three Tips to Protect Your Vehicle During the Winter Months

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Our vehicles are essential to our daily lives, offering safety, comfort, and convenience of travel. Although they are made to withstand the elements, in reality winter conditions can take a serious toll on your car with a number of damages that could quickly amount to an expensive or dangerous situation. Vehicle neglect is estimated to cost the U.S. economy over $2 billion each and every year. By taking a progressive, preventative approach to vehicle repair and maintenance, drivers can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year by staving off necessary repairs. Here are some of the best vehicle maintenance tips to keep your car going during the winter months.

General Maintenance

The cycles of freezing and thawing are generally not good for a vehicle. Although car parts are generally tested to withstand cold temperatures, it is still best to have belts and hoses checked for leaks and replaced — a leaking brake line is more than a nuisance if left unchecked. Along with this, one should also check to ensure that fluid levels are all optimal; this includes things like power steering fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, engine oil, and even windshield wiper cleaning compounds. Finally, the windshield wipers themselves ought to be checked for damages — it is one of those things that most people don’t consider until they are blinded by a rainy or snowy night. If the problem is not damage but dirt accumulation on a windshield wiper, the driver can fix this themselves by cleaning windshield wipers with a rag and a water-white vinegar mixture to remove the debris.

Brake Service

Our brakes are truly pushed to their limits during the winter months, especially for those areas with slippery roads due to accumulation. Studies show how most people have to slam on their brakes several times during winter to avoid collisions, ditches, and other environmental hazards. This takes a toll on our brake systems, especially since our brake lines are more prone to damage thanks to freezing and thawing cycles. Always ensure that you have your brakes checked as soon as the light goes not — if not for your own safety then for the safety of others on the road. Faulty brake systems are incredibly dangerous when paired with poor weather conditions, and even more so when one considers over or under inflated tires.

Repairing and Replacing Your Tires

Tires are especially susceptible to damage during the winter months. Cold weather can significantly lower the pressure in one’s tires — this is why many of us see the tire pressure light come on at some point every winter. Experts say that drivers should check their tire pressure every month and have it filled up as needed. Some tire stores refill tires with nitrogen, whose molecules are not affected by the temperature to the degree that oxygen is. Studies show how tires that are under-inflated by more than 25% are three times more likely to be involved in a crash involving tires than drivers with properly inflated tires. The snow, ice, and rain throughout winter can significantly damage the tire’s treads which can decrease the effective grip a tire has on the road; test results confirm that hydroplaning occurs starting at 47 mph when cornering on worn out tires whereas the corresponding speed for new tires is instead 60 mph. Mechanics say that when the tread of your tires has worn to 6/32 of an inch, it is time to have retreading done on your current tires, replace the old tires with new tires, or find quality used tires with good treading. When purchasing new or used tires, always be sure to buy a set of four tires whether your vehicle has all wheel drive, front wheel drive, or rear wheel drive to ensure that your vehicle will drive properly. Whether new or used tires are installed for winter, some insurance providers will take 5% off a driver’s car insurance premium if a set of four winter tires are installed. When it comes to winter don’t take any chances, ensure that your vehicle can perform against the elements by installing new or used tires this winter.