car driving in winter weather

Here’s How to Get Your Car Ready for Winter Weather

Winter is rapidly approaching (and, in some areas, already made land fall), so the annual question of winterizing has already been making the rounds. What is winterizing? Do I need to winterize my car? How do I prepare my car for winter?

This article is sponsored by iFixit, the DIY community dedicated to helping anyone fix anything. iFixit is home to the largest collection of repair guides on the internet, including guides for auto repair. Read until the end for an incredible winter car care giveaway, including Weathertech floor liners! All opinions are my own.

Let’s get into it!

First of all, winterizing as a service usually refers to replacing a vehicle’s thermostat, gasket, and coolant. This service is entirely unnecessary unless there’s a specific problem you’re looking to fix or if it’s time to replace your coolant for maintenance purposes. If you’ve been diligently maintaining your car year-round, nothing specific needs to be replaced or repaired, especially for winter.  This, however, does not mean that you shouldn’t take steps to prepare your car for winter weather. Here are eight things to do or think about as winter approaches.

Check Your Tires

checking tire pressure

Tires are essential year-round, but wet and snowy weather makes tires that much more important. Be sure to inspect your tires for creaking and uneven wear, and of course, to ensure they still have enough tread to be safe. You’ll also want to take extra care that your tires are appropriately inflated, using the tire information level inside the driver’s side door for reference.

Replace Your Wiper Blades

When was the last time you changed your wiper blades? Wiper blades are easy to forget until you’re in a rain or snowstorm and can’t see out the window.  Replacing your wiper blades is super easy and should be done once or twice a year. Here’s a tutorial I wrote for iFixit to walk you through it.

Change Your Washer Fluid

adding washer fluid to a car

Did you know that not all washer fluids are suitable for winter weather? You’ll want to ensure your washer fluid reservoir is filled with a fluid that won’t freeze when the temperature drops and ideally has a deicer added. Water (or washer fluid that isn’t graded for freezing temperatures) can freeze, causing it to expand and creak the plastic washer fluid reservoir. I live in Wisconsin and use winter washer fluid year-round, but now’s the time to replace it if you don’t.

Check Your Fluids

It’s wise to check your oil level and condition and the rest of your fluids, including coolant, power steering, brake, and transmission fluid. Check your owner’s manual for more information on which of these fluids your car has and how they should be checked.

Make Sure Your Emergency Kit is Up to Date

Winter is a great time to check your emergency kit to ensure everything is in order and replace anything that requires replacement. Update your emergency kit for the season by adding a shovel, ice scraper, a few energy bars, a warm change of clothing, and anything else you might need based on your driving habits and area. In some areas, this may include snow chains and cat litter. Here’s an in-depth article I wrote about winter emergency kits.

Charge Your Jump Starter

Do you have one of those super convenient jump starters? As winter inevitably sets in, it’s time to check and ensure the jump starter is all charged up and ready to go in case you need it. Some jump starters have to be recharged frequently, while others only once or twice a year, but it’s an excellent time to take a quick look and ensure it’s all charged up.

Get a Multi-Point Inspection (including a brake check)

a mechanic checking a customer brakes

If your car hasn’t been inspected recently, November is a great time to head to the mechanic for an all-over check-up. A multi-point inspection consists of visual checks of your tires, brakes, fluids, filters, belts and hoses, and the suspension. Be sure to ask your mechanic to check your battery as well. This will help you know what’s going on with your car and if anything needs to be addressed for safety or maintenance purposes to ensure your car is ready for winter weather. If you need an oil change, most quality mechanic shops will include a multi-point inspection.

Install Winter Tires (if needed)

Did you decide that this year is the year you’ll get winter tires, or do you already have winter tires? Then now’s the time to get those mounted on your car. Not sure if you want / need winter tires? Check out this article I wrote on the topic to help you make an educated decision.

Winter Car Care Kit Giveaway

Great news! I’ve partnered with iFixit to offer two winter car care bundles to two lucky winners. Each bundle includes a jump starter that can also charge your phone and act as a flashlight/emergency light, a tire inflator that can easily inflate your tires to the proper PSI without having to check a million times, a digital tire pressure gauge to help you check your tire pressure, and a set of Weathertech floor liners.

If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also receive the Pro Tech Bundle, which includes tools for changing bulbs and remote batteries and various items to help you repair your phone, laptop, and other electronics.

Enter the giveaway below, or click here.

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