Extreme Weather: Is Your Car Ready for Anything?
Winter’s here — did you ever get around to preparing your vehicle? If not, don’t fret. Even if you didn’t get snow tires, an air conditioning checkup and a cooling system inspection, that doesn’t mean you can’t go out if you need to.
Extreme Weather Last-Minute Prep List
Here are a few last-minute preparations to consider if you plan on going out in a car that hasn’t been specifically prepared for winter driving conditions.
- Winter Wiper Blades: Your car may already come equipped with beam blades. If so, then you won’t need winter blades. On the other hand, if your car is equipped with open-frame plastic or metal blades, ice can easily build up, reducing their wiping abilities and leading to poor visibility when you need it most. Spring for beam blades or rubber-sheathed winter blades, which are nearly impervious to freezing. Also, don’t use your wipers to scrape frost or snow off your windshield. You’ll wear out the blades faster or worse — break off a wiper.
- Winter Washer Fluid: Winter means freezing temperatures and lots of road grime, so you’ll need plenty of washer fluid, but you don’t want to spray washer fluid on your windshield that’s going to freeze. A good winter washer fluid should be rated to -20 °F or -30 °F, which should eliminate the issue of fluid freezing in the reservoir or on your windshield.
- Oil Change: When it’s cold, engine oil thickens and flows slower. Starting your engine in extreme cold is the worst part of your engine’s day, and insufficient oil flow can lead to wear. Most vehicles use multi-viscosity oil to address this problem, though some manufacturers may suggest different oil for extreme cold — a car that uses 5W-30 in summer may benefit from using 0W-20 in the winter, for example.
Driving Habits That Could Save Your Life
Vehicles should be prepared for driving in extreme weather, and so should drivers. Make sure you’re prepared for winter driving by following these three tips:
- Slow Down: This is the single most effective thing that you can do to stay safe on the road, even if your car isn’t equipped with dedicated snow tires or all-wheel drive. Slow down and give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. On your trip, don’t accelerate and brake moderately. Take corners and curves slower than you would on a rainy day.
- Emergency Kit: If something goes wrong, a well-equipped emergency kit can literally be a life saver. Extra winter clothes, such as socks, gloves, hats, scarves or an extra jacket, will help you keep warm in case you become stranded. Energy-dense foods, such as granola bars or dried fruits, will keep your energy up. A few water bottles are an absolute necessity.
- Stay In: Facing extreme weather, an unprepared driver in an unprepared vehicle is a recipe for disaster. Employers and professors will understand if you don’t go to work or school during extreme weather conditions.
Fortunately, most cars are decently equipped for driving in extreme weather with nearly ubiquitous features like anti-lock braking systems and electronic stability control. With a few minutes of prep, you’ll be ready for almost anything the road throws at you.
Check out all the vision and safety parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on driving in extreme weather, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Benjamin Jerew View All
Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.
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