When considering winter preparation plans this season, many look for forecasts to get an idea of what to expect. Earlier this year, the NOAA‘s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center predicted higher-than-average precipitation across the northern States, including the northern Rocky Mountains, eastern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.
Interestingly, most NOAA predictions oppose those from the Farmer’s Almanac, another popular guide. Still, people in those northern climes know that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, which is why NAPA Know How suggests forgetting the forecast and making winter preparation plans right now. Here’s how.
Getting caught on a snowy road in summer tires could cost you much more than good all-season or snow tires. Make sure all-season tires have at least 6/32″ tread depth remaining. Summer tires should be replaced with all-season or snow tires, as summer tires offer less traction when temperatures drop.
Cold temperatures put a car’s electrical system to the test. A weak battery might start a car in the summer, but winter-cold oil could be too much. Have the battery tested for SOC and SOH (state of charge and state of health), and replace it if it fails the tests. Check the charging system output and the generator drive belt condition and tension, and don’t forget to clean up power-robbing corrosion.
Forget, for a moment, that air conditioning cools the air, and remember that it also dries the air. The best way to keep your windshield fog-free is with hot dry air. Have your air-conditioning system checked for proper pressure, cycling and drive belt condition. For the outside, get a pair of winter wiper blades.
Driving on dry, sunny roads is different from driving on cold, wet roads, and icy roads can be particularly dangerous. Brush up on winter driving tactics, and maybe practice in an empty parking lot, if there’s snow on it. If it does snow, remember the single best practice is to simply slow down.
In case you’re unexpectedly caught in poor conditions, having a winter emergency kit will get you back on the road and could even save your life. Because of the cold, this goes beyond the typical first-aid kit and warning triangles. A battery booster or jumper cables might make up for a weak battery, and a snow shovel and salt can help you get unstuck. Don’t forget blankets, bottled water and trail mix.
Winter preparation is all about getting ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you and expecting the unexpected. If the NOAA says more snow for your area, but Farmer’s Almanac says less, then prudence demands preparing for the unforeseen. The truth is no one really knows what’s going to happen this winter, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winter preparation, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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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.