Keeping your car in good shape during harsh winter months

Posted at 4:18 AM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 07:38:35-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Freezing temperatures and the chance for wintry precipitation means now is a good time to make sure your car is prepared to handle the harsher winter conditions.

AAA says now is a good time to have systems in your car checked and to perform important maintenance to ensure your car is in peak condition.

Winter can be especially tough on the charging and starting system, headlights, tires and windshield wipers, so they offer the following advice:

  • Clean any corrosion from battery posts and cable connections and wash all surfaces with battery terminal cleaner or a solution of baking soda and water. Have the battery checked by a professional to ensure it is strong enough to face cold weather.
  • Have any engine drivability problems corrected at a good repair shop. Symptoms like hard starts, rough idling, stalling or diminished power could signal a problem that would be exacerbated by cold weather.
  • Replace worn windshield-wiper blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase one-piece beam-type or rubber-clad “winter” blades to fight snow and ice build-up. Use cold-weather windshield washer solvent and carry an ice-scraper.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs and replace burned out bulbs. Clean road grime or clouding from all lenses.
  • Have your mechanic check the exhaust system for leaks and look for any holes in the trunk and floorboards.
  • Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Check tire pressures once a month when tires are cold, before driving for any distance. In extreme climates, a set of winter snow tires may be a wise investment.
  • Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.
  • Now is the time to get your emergency kit equipped for winter weather. The kit should include: a bag of abrasive material or traction mats, snow shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, window washer solvent, ice scraper with brush, cloth or roll of paper towels, jumper cables, extra warm clothing, blankets, warning devices, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers, first-aid kit, basic toolkit, and a mobile phone and car charger.