Though Atlanta sometimes experiences a snowstorm every now and again, we go most years without too much severe winter weather. In fact, extended forecasts predict a warmer, drier winter this year. If you have stepped outside recently, you know that cold weather has not truly come to us yet.
Even if snowstorms and bitterly cold weather may not be in the forecast, winter is still coming. That means you need to make sure your car is ready for the season. Though most modern cars are engineered to handle and perform at the same level no matter the weather, there are still important steps to take to completely winterize your vehicle.
Taking precautionary steps this winter can help prevent car problems, avoid collisions, and generally help you stay safe. Unfortunately, even if you take all the necessary precautions, others on the road may not. If you are injured in a wreck this winter, the Duluth car accident lawyers at Scholle Law are here to help. Give us a call at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
How to Winterize Your Vehicle
Vehicle maintenance is one of the most important aspects of car ownership. In the winter, cold weather and wild temperature swings common in Georgia only make maintenance that much more important.
While you should have your vehicle regularly inspected by an expert mechanic, give special attention to these car parts and systems this winter (click to jump to section):
The general rule is that your tires should be replaced every six years, and they should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Maintaining this schedule is especially important in the winter. Tires with uneven wear, low treads, cracks, or other issues can lead to a car wreck, especially in slick winter conditions.
If you plan on driving to snowy, icy areas, consider getting snow tires, which have softer rubber and special treads that grip the road better. At the very least, make sure your tires are fully inflated. Cold weather naturally lowers tire pressure, which can cause lower traction, decreased fuel economy, and decrease the lifespan of your tires.
Have you ever noticed that it takes a little longer for your vehicle’s engine to start in the winter? Your battery and electrical system are partially to blame. The battery is responsible for sending power to the engine to get it started, in addition to powering the heating, lighting, windshield wipers and other systems.
Yet as these systems are used more often during the winter, the cold weather decreases the power your battery provides. At 32° Fahrenheit, your battery can lose over a third of its strength. If it gets down to 0°F, that power loss nearly doubles. Be sure to regularly check your battery and other electrical systems during the winter to make sure you do not get stranded in the cold.
In decades past, you would need to change your oil every winter to make sure it flowed in the cold. Current synthetic and synthetic blend oil types are designed to work in all weather conditions, meaning you do not need a special oil specifically for cold weather. However, if you have an older vehicle, cold weather may cause the oil to flow slowly – or not at all. Your mechanic can provide more guidance for your specific vehicle.
Oil is not the only fluid to worry about this winter. Make sure your car has antifreeze, also called coolant, to keep your engine from overheating. Check your owner’s manual to determine what type of coolant is best for your vehicle. Your windshield wiper fluid is also crucially important in the winter. You will want wiper fluid that is rated to not freeze in cold weather.
The cabin air filter is responsible for filtering out potentially harmful particles from the air coming into your car. While it is common to replace this filter in the spring to combat pollen and other seasonal allergies, it can be just as important to replace it in the winter. Not only does a new filter more effectively remove exhaust and other particles coming from the engine, but it also boosts the performance of your defroster.
In addition to the cabin air filter, your car also has an engine air filter. It is recommended you replace this filter every 30,000 to 45,000 miles. However, if you drive on dusty roads or streets salted for ice in the winter, your filter may become clogged more quickly. Ask your mechanic to check this filter during your next oil change or other maintenance visit, especially if it has been a while since the last time it was checked.
There are a variety of rubber hoses and belts under the hood of your vehicle. These can vary by vehicle, but you will likely find a serpentine belt and a timing belt. Older vehicles may use a v-belt instead of a serpentine belt. Hoses transport fluids like coolant and brake fluid throughout the engine.
Because belts and hoses are made of rubber, they can crack and warp in cold weather. It is important to inspect hoses and belts regularly for signs of wear and tear. If you hear squeaking, knocking, or slapping sounds, one of your belts may be broken. If you notice leaking from under the car or your engine is suddenly overheating, a hose may have cracked.
When winter comes, the brakes of your car can struggle to slow you down. Ironically, one of the most common issues is the brake pads overheating. This is because precipitation and icy roads can cause you to hit the brakes harder than normal to stop, overheating the brakes and potentially causing them to fail.
If there is road salt on the street, your brakes and undercarriage may become rusty. This may become especially evident in the spring. Rust can cause severe damage, such as wearing down your brake rotors and pads. Your best bet is to have your mechanic inspect your brake system and ensure they are ready for the winter roads.
Have you ever driven in the rain with bad windshield wipers? It can severely impact your vision, leading to car wrecks. In the winter, this lack of vision could potentially be deadly. Snow, sleet, and other wintery weather can all but blind drivers, even with the best windshield wipers. Like hoses and belts, the rubber blades of your wipers may deteriorate faster in cold weather.
Conventional windshield wipers struggle in winter weather, forcing drivers to buy blades specifically for the cold. However, new “beam” wipers are designed to work well in all weather. Even better, hybrid wipers take the best parts of conventional and beam blades and combines them to offer drivers the best vision possible, even in heavy weather.
If you are like most of us, washing your car is not a top priority in the winter. After all, with no pollen, dust, and other elements, the need to wash your vehicle in the cold may seem unnecessary. However, with road salt, snow, sleet, and rain, the paint and body of your car can become damaged. As such, it is crucial to have your car regularly washed this season.
In addition to washing your vehicle, you should also take steps to protect the paint itself. If you utilize a car wash, be sure to get the package that includes hot wax service. Waxing your car by hand can provide even more protection. While you are washing and waxing your car, be sure to clean your headlights as well. Dirty headlights can cause severe issues in winter weather.
Speak to an Georgia Car Accident Lawyer If You Are in a Collision This Winter
Driving in winter weather can be treacherous, but it is even more dangerous if you have not prepared your car for the season. No matter how much work you put into your vehicle, however, there is little you can do about other drivers on the road. If predictions are correct, about 109 million people plan to travel for the holidays. That means more cars on the road, increasing your chances of being in a wreck.
If you are injured in an accident that was not your fault, our car accident lawyers are here to help. Scholle Law has recovered over $75 million on behalf of our clients, and we know what it takes to win your case.
Give us a call at (866) 592-1296 or contact us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are available to take your call 24/7, including holidays.