Six Tips for Winter Driving and Vehicle Maintenance

Car driving on dangerous winter roads

Six Tips for Winter Driving and Vehicle Maintenance

As chilly weather settles in for the winter, what maintenance does your vehicle need? To keep your vehicle running smoothly even in slush, freezing rain, or snow, we have tips for you. These pointers may be new to you, or they may simply serve as a reminder as you get ready for the cold months ahead.

If you live in warmer areas and are planning a road trip to cooler climates, count on these tips to keep you stress-free and prepared for anything.


A small battery is fine in warm weather, but it may not give you enough juice to get you going on a frosty morning. Check your owner’s manual to see what kind of battery your vehicle needs for the weather where you are or where you’ll be traveling. Charge your battery completely and verify whether it holds the charge well. A local repair shop can test it for you.


Tire pressure drops with colder weather. Your owner’s manual will indicate what pressure your tires need at cooler temperatures. And remember that tires can freeze up – literally. To get good traction in wet slush or snow, look for tires that have special winter tread patterns that stay flexible in the cold.

Do you need snow tires? If you live in or will visit an area with snowy hills that you’ll be driving up and down, you might want to consider investing in snow tires.

How thick is your oil?

As the temperature drops, your vehicle’s engine may need a different oil viscosity. What’s viscosity? It’s how thick the oil is. As the weather outside gets colder, the oil in your vehicle gets thicker. Thick oil doesn’t run through the engine in the most efficient manner, and won’t keep it lubricated. Your owner’s manual will tell you if the oil you’re using is the proper viscosity for the temperature where you live – or where you will travel to – so you can buy the recommended grade for your vehicle.

How good is your visibility?

Wiper blades have a lifespan of about a year. Look for worn, cracked rubber and change them if in doubt. Also, check your windshield washer fluid so that you’re prepared for slushy rain or snow piling up on the windshield. Never use water in cold weather – you don’t want it to freeze up your windshield!

Be well equipped

Having an emergency kit in your vehicle will come in handy. Consider packing whatever you may need for an extended stay in a car with no or little heat. That could include extra clothing, blankets, extra food and water, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and towels. To be prepared to get your car out of a tight spot, consider stowing away an ice scraper, jumper cables, a small shovel, tire chains, flares, and a spare tire with the appropriate equipment to change it.

Have a Plan B

Although no one wants to get stranded, it’s good to give some thought to what you’d do if it did happen. Although your stranded vehicle may seem like a cold place to stay, and waiting for help to arrive may drive you wild with impatience, the vehicle may be the safest – and warmest – place to wait for assistance. Light flares in front of and behind your vehicle and stay bundled up until help arrives.

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