With the colder weather means more ice, snow, sleet, and other not-so-ideal conditions for many on the road. From road salt damage, to foggy headlights, there’s a lot of potential for the winter months to take a toll on your car. Fortunately, there are a variety of winter car maintenance tips you can use to help keep your vehicle running in top shape, even through a snowstorm. Check out our winter car maintenance checklist below to make sure you’re prepared for this upcoming season. 

Check your lighting

I don’t think there’s many people out there who actually like to fall back on November 1st, but nevertheless, it happens every year. And with less daylight comes more time spent driving in low-light and nighttime conditions. While it’s important to maintain clear headlights year-round, winter is where having fogged-up headlights can really put you in trouble. 

If one of your bulbs is out, replace it as soon as possible. If your problem is foggy headlights, they can easily be restored at home by trying one of a few DIY methods

Swap your tires

It’s a misconception that you should only swap out your regular tires for winter ones if you live somewhere where heavy snow is common. In reality, if winter temperatures regularly get below 45° F in your area, it’s best to make the switch to winter tires every year to give you better traction when turning or stopping. 

Keep your battery in top shape

Car batteries can only work at a fraction of their normal power in cold weather. For example, at 0° F, a battery has only about half the cranking power it would have at 80° F. 

It’s easy to check your battery to make sure it’s charged and ready to go. For conventional batteries, remove the plastic cap on top and check the fluid level. If it’s low, add distilled water. On maintenance-free batteries, check to make sure the window at the top indicates a full charge. A good rule of thumb is, if it’s more than 5 years old, it might be time for a replacement. 

Replace your wiper blades

Did you know that even the best performing wiper blades start to lose their efficacy after only six months? If you’re noticing streaks, or if your wipers miss certain areas completely, that’s a good sign it’s time to change your blades out. Thankfully, installing new blades is simple, and if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, a lot of auto shops will do it free of charge. 

Add a layer of protection

Road salt, snow, and ice can create a wintry mix of grime around your car, and settle into hard-to-reach places, making it harder to clean. A simple way to prevent that is through a coat of polymer wax around the body of your car. Coupled with high-pressure washes every so often, and you won’t have to worry about winter buildup weighing your car down. 

Stay fueled up

Less of a winter car maintenance tip and more of a safety tip, it’s important to keep your fuel tank full whenever possible in the winter months. If you end up stuck somewhere in the snow, you’ll want to be able to run the heat until you get rescued. 

Stuck at home? Break out your toolkit and try these popular quick car upgrades this season. And discover the latest car and automotive news on Headlights.com. 

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    3 Comments

    1. I am set for the South Florida Winter.

    2. Do I not miss doing this every other day back when I lived up north.

    3. When you live in South Florida your entire life, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like driving in the snow.

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