Tips for Prepping Your Car for the Coldest and Harshest Winter Conditions

Despite an upcoming week of frigid weather, there’s still time to prep your car for the coldest and harshest conditions we expect to face, according to AAA Northeast.

Preventative maintenance is essential to reduce your chances of being stranded so, here are some tips to prepare your vehicle for adverse winter conditions.

Battery and charging system: Have your battery and charging system tested if your vehicle’s battery is more than three years old. During a cold snap, even a good battery can lose up to 50% of its cranking capacity. At 32 degrees, it takes up to 30% more power to start a cold engine. A jumpstart will only fix the ‘symptom’ not the problem.

Coolant: Make sure your coolant contains a 50/50 solution of coolant and water that protects your engine at -34 degrees. Inexpensive testers are available at auto parts stores. Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. Makes sure hoses aren’t cracked or clamps are loose. Brittle spongy hoses should be replaced immediately.

Washer fluid: Your windshield fluid should feature antifreeze components that protects well below freezing temperatures. A filled reservoir is a necessity during icy mornings.

Engine Warm up: Extensive engine warm ups aren’t necessary in very cold weather. A more fuel-efficient technique is once the car is running and you’ve settled in – seatbelts buckled; radio tuned; interior reasonably warmed — drive at a reasonable speed until your engine comes up to operating temperature. 

Tires:  Ideally, winter tires on all four wheels provide the best traction in snowy weather because of their construction. However, most drivers opt for all-season tires that work well in light-to-moderate snow conditions, provided they have adequate tread depth. Examine the tread depth on tires; look for uneven wear or cupping. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.

Wipers: Replace wiper blades that leave streaks or miss spots on your windshield. Consider installing winter blades – a pricier alternative – but one that features rubber boot to protect your blades from snow and ice buildup.

Oil: Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Change your oil according to manufacturer recommendations. And while you’re at it, have your transmission fluid level checked.

AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services. In Connecticut, we serve a half-million members living in is Fairfield, New Haven, and Litchfield counties